–PM Imran orders treasury members to give befitting reply to ‘thieves, robbers’ during NA session
–Ruckus mars session as Shehbaz demands issuance of Zardari’s production orders
–Shehbaz, Bilawal meet Fazl, announce to hold APC against budget, other govt decisions
ISLAMABAD: The battle lines are drawn as the government on Monday expressed its resolve to get the federal budget for fiscal year 2019-20 passed from the National Assembly (NA) “at all costs” while the joint opposition has announced that it would do everything in its power to stop the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from accomplishing its objective.
Earlier in the day, NA’s budget session was adjourned unceremoniously after members of the treasury, including ministers, continued to create a ruckus despite repeated warnings from the speaker.
Before the session began, Prime Minister Imran Khan told a meeting of the PTI’s parliamentary party and coalition partners that the government would ensure that the budget is passed by the House.
He directed treasury lawmakers to give a befitting reply to the opposition and to play an active role in getting the budget passed. He also regretted that the opposition had “deliberately” tried to disrupt the proceedings of the House.
‘PM DOESN’T WANT ZARDARI TO ATTEND SESSION’:
According to reports, PM Imran gave directions for not issuing production orders for any member of the NA, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
Addressing the participants, he termed members of the opposition “thieves, robbers”, saying that nowhere in the world criminals came to the parliament on productions orders to deliver speeches against the prime minister or the government.
Informed sources said that Imran directed members of the treasury to interrupt the speech by Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, rather than gossiping with opposition members in cafeteria. He said those who burdened the country with heavy debts were “national criminals” and would be treated in kind.
According to sources, Sanaullah Mastikhel requested the prime minister not to take the opposition head-on as the government had to get the budget approved. At this, the premier was reported as telling Mastikhel that they were criminals and it was necessary to do all this against them.
The premier reportedly also asked for taking a guarantee from the opposition that they would allow him to deliver a speech, at which, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed said they would not keep their word.
During the meeting, Khalid Magsi asked the premier whether he thought his coalition partners would stay with him.
PM Khan replied that he even if no one stayed with him, he would still fight against corrupt individuals, the sources added.
RUCKUS IN THE HOUSE:
Following the PM’s orders, the treasury members created chaos in the House when Shehbaz started to speak, drowning out his voice.
Shehbaz refused to be silenced by the noise and called PM Imran the “biggest liar in the country’s history”.
Demanding that the NA speaker issue productions order of Zardari, Shehbaz said that the PPP leader is an elected representative of the people of his constituency and has the right to be present in the House for the discussion on the budget.
“It is Zardari’s right to relay the grievances of the people of his constituency,” he said, adding that it would not be fair to conduct the session in his absence.
The PML-N president said that his party had managed to resuscitate the economy and improve the security situation during its tenure.
Speaker Asad Qaiser repeatedly directed the noisy government members to stay quiet but to no avail, following which he adjourned the sitting until 4pm on Tuesday.
Earlier, PPP senators held a sit-in outside the speaker’s office to protest against the non-issuance of production orders of Zardari, who is currently under the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
They claimed that the government wanted to deny Zardari a chance to vote against the budget.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the House on Friday as well when treasury members interrupted Sharif’s speech by constantly creating disturbances. Later, Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry had admitted that it was a planned move by the treasury benches to prevent Sharif from delivering his speech to give a befitting reply to the opposition that had created a ruckus in the House at the time of the presentation of the budget.
OPP TO HOLD APC:
After the session was adjourned on Monday, Shehbaz and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari separately visited the house of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to discuss future strategy of the opposition parties.
Addressing reporters after meeting the two opposition leaders, Fazl announced that an All Parties Conference (APC) will likely be held by the end of June.
“All opposition parties would move forward under a joint strategy and the ‘government will have to go’” he said.
Talking to the media, Shehbaz said that the APC would be held very soon but noted that a date would be announced after everyone was consulted.
“We have decided through a consensus that an APC would be called to resolve all the problems of the Pakistani people,” Sharif said.
“The worst budget in Pakistan’s history was presented. We will force the government to rescind this budget,” he vowed.
Bilawal, on the other hand, said he wanted the assemblies to complete their term in any case. “Whatever decision was made during the APC would be the collective decision of all,” he added.
The PPP chief termed the proposed budget as “anti-people” and vowed that the opposition will not allow it to pass.
“We still consider PM Imran to be a ‘selected premier’,” he said, adding that the recent arrests of opposition lawmakers implied that the path was being cleared for the government to get the budget passed.
Bilawal once again reiterated his demand of issuance of production orders for the lawmakers who are currently under custody.