–Abbasi criticises govt for ‘holding parliament hostage’, demands withdrawal of increase in gas rates
–Opp parties tear gas bills in protest, walk out of session
ISLAMABAD: The situation remained tense in the National Assembly (NA) on Friday as the government and opposition members had another war of words before the opposition staged a walkout from the session.
During the proceedings, the opposition accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of paralyzing the affairs of parliament. As former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took the stage, he held out a gas bill and criticised the government for its “incompetence”.
Abbasi demanded that the increase made in gas tariff be withdrawn immediately.
Moreover, he lashed out at the treasury benches for “holding the parliament hostage” and remarked that the House has not seen any constructive debate in the last six months for “no laws were passed and no resolutions tabled”.
Speaking on the increase in prices of natural gas, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader said: “The common man is suffering because of the government’s policies. I have been the petroleum minister too and I can help them fix this mess.”
Calling upon lawmakers to work for Pakistan’s prosperity, he regretted that time was wasted on “irrelevant discussions” in the House. The opposition is ready to work nights and weekends if that means the parliament would function smoothly, he said.
Further, he urged the NA speaker to issue production orders for Khawaja Saad Rafique who has been in the National Accountability Bureau’s remand in connection with the Paragon housing society scam.
The opposition proceeded to tear gas bills to shreds as Abbasi ended his speech.
‘SPEAKER’S OFFICE DEMANDS RESPECT:’
Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Fehmida Mirza said the opposition members have infringed the sanctity of the House by surrounding the dais of the speaker. She said those claiming themselves to be proponents of democratic norms should respect the office of the speaker.
She said the process of accountability will go ahead and the democratic system and the parliament will also function.
Mirza said given the situation on the borders and propaganda campaign by India, it is time that the parliament sends a strong and united message to India.
“This is for the first time that there is hope for the country in the shape of foreign investment. The opposition parties should shun negative course and play a positive role to fully reap the dividends of the investment,” she added.
‘OPP IS HOLDING NA HOSTAGE’:
Later, the deputy speaker allowed Federal Minister for Postal Services Murad Saeed to speak, but the opposition parties refused to listen and continued chanting slogans.
Murad retorted that in fact, it is the opposition that is holding the NA hostage. He recalled that they had disrupted proceedings when they demanded that Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif should be appointed the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Now they are demanding production orders for Khawaja Saad Rafique, he said.
He said the increase in gas and electricity prices is the “result of the flawed policies of the previous governments which left behind a circular debt of Rs1200 billion”.
Referring to the Kulbhushan Jadhav case’s public hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Murad said that it was shameful for Pakistan that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s interview was being quoted by India to support their case.
“It is indeed is a matter of shame that a three-time prime minister could make such a treacherous statement which was viewed by the international community as evidence against Pakistan,” he said.
“Can anything be more unfortunate than this?” Saeed asked the House.
Observing that India is issuing war threats to Pakistan, the ruling member of the national assembly (MNA) said that “Pakistan should send a strong message to them [India] that we will retaliate [if a war is imposed]”.
Saeed also opposed the issuance of production orders for Rafique and said that “if a person has not committed an offense that he should fight his case in the court”.
“Pakistan’s image is improving under the leadership of Imran Khan and Pakistan prisoners in Saudi Arabia are also returning to the country due to the efforts of Imran Khan,” he added.
Afterwards, the opposition walked out of the house. The House will now meet on Monday at 4:00 pm.