ISLAMABAD: Having been lashed out by the opposition forces over tending to formulate the anti-poor and excessively taxed highhanded Finance Bill 2024-25, an all-embarrassed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) finally managed to present the new federal budget on Wednesday which was greeted with a barrage of stiff resistance by the opposing gurus.

Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb, the banking pundit cum financial czar, who presented the budget, left no stone unturned to draw a flowery pictorial presentation from idealism.

However, little did the ruling PML-N know that its “better political half” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had other plans to flip the coin against the ruling brats, that too when the parliamentary gurus huddled up in the freezing air conditioned hall of the decision makers who were in a rush to proclaim the country’s financial landscape for the next 12 months starting from July 01, 2024, to July 01, 2025.

The budget session which was supposed to kick run at 4pm began after a painfully long delay of two hours as PPP lawmakers wanted to boycott the all-important budgetary engaging conclave.

The fissures within the ruling coalition government surfaced after the PPP accused the ruling PML-N of ignoring its inputs in the preparation of the budget and questioning if the Shehbaz Sharif-led government still values its support.

However, the PML-N managed to woo its enraged ally after hours-long negotiations, as only three lawmakers from the PPP – Khurshid Shah, Naveed Qamar and Ejaz Jakhrani – “symbolically” attended the session after a brief boycott.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari left the Parliament House without participating in the session. The trio was seen accompanying the deputy prime minister Ishaq Dar as they entered the assembly chamber.

The development is seen as a breakthrough in the government’s efforts to ensure a smooth budget session, despite the opposition’s earlier reservations about the budget-making process.

Earlier, Shazia Marri of PPP told reporters that the PPP has decided to boycott the budget meeting, as their inputs were not sought in preparation of the budget.

However, she claimed that Tuesday’s meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had nothing to do with the budget.

She further said the two coalition partners had decided about consultation on the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), which did not take place.

“We’ll also listen to the speech of the finance minister in the National Assembly session,” she added.

On the other hand, Khurshid Shah claimed that his party had not been consulted on the budget, adding, “It was decided that PSDP of the four provinces will be mutually decided”.

However, he said that the provinces were not consulted about the fund’s allocation.

He said that the government claims it had briefed the PPP, but there is a difference between a briefing and a discussion.

“Promises regarding salaries and farmers within the budget have not been fulfilled,” he claimed, adding that both the government and the party were in the same boat and both would face equal losses.

“To avoid these losses, our demands should be met,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dar headed over to the chamber of PPP’s Bilawal to convince him to withdraw his party’s boycott of the budget session.

Dar met with Bilawal to sort out any concerns of the PPP, as per sources.

“We’re united […] will give good news soon,” he said after the meeting concluded, adding that they were all working for the betterment of the country.

After a meeting with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Dar told reporters that the government will soon share good news with the nation.

“We’re working for the betterment of Pakistan,” Dar said, adding that “we are together for the improvement of the country.”

As the budget session started, the highly charged lawmakers belonging to PTI-backed SIC stormed the house to materialise the worst nightmare of the ruling elite with their nerve-racking sloganeering in propagation of Prisoner No 804 – the prison number allotted to Imran Khan.

They were holding placards inscribed with slogans like “Release, Imran Khan”.

Zartaj Gul, the versatile PTI MP from iconic Dera Ghazi Khan – the stronghold of the offspring of late Farooq Leghari – had also donned especially designed attire with heart-wrenching inscriptions of “absolutely not” – an obvious yet astounding resounding reference to the daring “NO” of loud-faced Prisoner No 804 to the powerfully crushing Americans right on the re-faced embarrassing mouths.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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