The National Assembly, resuming its debate on budget on Wednesday, seemed to meander directionless in the absence of key ministers, including the finance minister himself, prompting the otherwise meek opposition of PTI dissidents to stage a walkout in a rare show of teeth to the government.
As the session commenced with NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair, lawmakers belonging to PML-N and GDA pointed out the absence of important ministers and officials including Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.
PML-N MNAs also joined their voices with the opposition and took great exception to the “non-seriousness” of the key ministers, while Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz Ahmed – a PTI dissident –and other opposition lawmakers staged a walkout from the session.
However, the opposition changed its mind after being persuaded by other MNAs to return to the house. Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, on the directives of Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani, brought the irate opposition back.
The session was largely haunted by the spectre of Imran Khan, whom the lawmakers castigated for the prevailing economic headwinds buffeting the new government’s efforts to restore the economy to full health. The government lawmakers continued to make Imran the ‘bogeyman’ for the current economic woes.
Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman, participating in the debate, held that the former government was squarely responsible for Pakistan’s mounting debt and public accounts crisis.
She charged the Imran Khan-led government for “tying the current government to the worst IMF agreement” and leaving Pakistan doubly exposed to both the entire multilateral financial system, loss of sovereign credibility, and at home the crippling burden of spiralling prices in a landscape of “extreme irresponsibility where no LNG was ordered nor plan made for the unfunded subsidies they doled out to gain political mileage for their gains at the expense of Pakistan”.
Terming the fiscal budget an “IMF budget”, the federal minister further lamented that the current government had to take austerity measures and restart talks with the IMF for a bailout.
‘Why is Imran still the favourite?’
Meanwhile, PML-N’s leader Ali Gohar Baloch, in his turn, appeared to take a page out of PTI’s post-ouster book, alleging that the PML-N’s previous government led by its supremo Nawaz Sharif was “removed” to impose Imran Khan’s government under a “conspiracy”. “But despite all scandals, why is Khan still the favourite one?”
He claimed that the government pulled off a “good budget” against the odds piled up against it by the previous PTI government.
“The causes of the economic catastrophe cannot be ignored. The previous government dissolved the entire country’s infrastructure into ruins.”
He went on to ask the “powerful quarters” as to why was the former prime minister still “favoured” and criticised the NAB for turning a blind eye to the corruption scandals of Imran Khan as no reference was being filed.
During the meeting, Maulana Muhammad Jamal ud Din urged the government to extend assistance to Afghanistan in the wake of a deadly earthquake that hit the neighbouring country early Wednesday, killing 1000 and injuring as many as 1,500 people
Later, the meeting was adjourned till Thursday (today) at 11am.
Originally published at tribune.com.pk