–PPP chief Bilawal says ‘PM Imran’s ego hurt by word ‘selected’, says censorship would only undermine parliament, democracy
–Marriyum suggests using word ‘handpicked’ instead of ‘selected’
ISLAMABAD: A day after the usage of the word “selected” was barred in the House by National Assembly (NA) Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday claimed that the ban had been imposed because “the word hurts Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ego”.
He said this while speaking on the floor of the House during the budget session.
The PPP chief questioned why only one particular word had been banned in the House. “None of the government’s words are censored in this House and by imposing this ban, the deputy speaker is only adding fuel to fire,” he added.
He said that it is a disgrace that the premier could not handle “even the slightest bit of criticism”, adding that the same premier who had appreciated his maiden NA speech a year ago, is now objecting to the usage of a word.
Bilawal expressed disappointment at the increasing trend of censorship in the country, saying that the space for democratic rights and human rights is receding. “We respect this House, but it is being held hostage at the moment,” he said, adding that the problems do not simply disappear by barring people from speaking about them rather “they return to haunt you later”.
He said that there was no freedom in ‘Naya Pakistan’ of the incumbent government as journalists and lawmakers alike were facing censorship. “We will not accept such censorship,” Bilawal maintained.
“This House is the custodian of the rights of the people and if it is not given its due respect, the circumstances would change to the situation depicted in George Orwell’s 1984,” he said.
Talking about the budget, Bilawal lashed out at the government for imposing “economic censorship” in the country as three provinces suffered budget cuts this year. He said that the government was quick to take charge of Sindh’s hospitals but did not increase any allocation for the same. “This budget is usurping provincial rights,” he said.
He said that the budget shows that the government has bowed down in front of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The premier made too many promises and the average citizens are paying the price for his incompetence,” he said.
Bilawal also rejected the debt commission formed by the government, terming it unconstitutional. “How can the collective wisdom of the parliament be questioned by institutions such as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI)?” he asked, adding that these very institutions were answerable to the parliament and not the other way round.
He said that the whole nation respects the armed forces of the country and in order to sustain their credibility, they should be kept away from politics. He also asked the government to reverse the decision of including Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa in the National Development Council as it harms the credibility of state institutions, adding that there should be some ‘insaf’ in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) tenure.
He also criticised the government for not issuing the production orders of lawmakers from North and South Waziristan and once again reiterated the same demand. “If they are not allowed to participate in the session then it would not be short of rigging the budget and it would go down in history,” he said.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:
PPP MNA Nafisa Shah said that there must be freedom of expression in the House. “You must bar the usage of words ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers’ if you are really impartial,” she said while addressing the deputy speaker. She also sought an explanation from him over the ban imposed on Sunday.
Responding to Nafisa’s criticism, the deputy speaker said that he had requested the members of the House to “let this beautiful democracy remain as it is because they had all been elected because of democracy”.
Addressing the House, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marriyum Aurangzeb lashed out at the government, saying that the budget presented earlier this month was an outcome of its “third-class performance” and “incompetence”.
She said that the government wants to crush the salaried class of the country and snatch every morsel out of the common man’s mouth.
She alleged that the government had come into power after being “selected”. On this, the deputy speaker objected, saying that all members of the House were elected representatives. Marriyum said that she did not use the word for the premier and referred to the government as “handpicked”.
Recalling PM Imran’s first speech after coming into power, she criticised the premier for choosing to address the nation through television instead of the parliament. “He addressed the parliament twice in the past 10 days. In his first address, he targeted the opposition while standing on a container and in his second address he was still on the same container but was targeting the investors and traders of the country,” she said.
Marriyum said that in his first speech, the premier had threatened the opposition with another NAB, while in the second one, he vented out his frustration over the “failed” amnesty scheme.
“The fact that the premier has restored to issuing threats means that the government is incompetent, ineligible, inexperienced and failed,” she said.
She said that the achievements PM Imran boasts about were the collective achievements of Pakistanis. “The 1992 World Cup was won through collective efforts and Shaukat Khanum too was built through the national spirit of the country,” she said.
She criticised the premier for turning to the IMF for assistance. “He promised the nation that he would not take the country to the IMF and would turn around the economy and build universities and museums on state properties,” she said, adding that now has turned into a driver who demands five starts on every ride.