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Startling events dampen budget debate
 
 
 
Startling events dampen budget debate

ISLAMABAD - Although the routine drill of federal budget 2014-15 was followed in true letter and spirit before its passage by the National Assembly here on Saturday, yet unusually the whole exercise was overwhelmed by other events taking place around starting from the arrest of MQM Quaid Altaf Hussain by the London metropolitan police on alleged money laundering charges the very day the finance minister had delivered his budget speech.
Since then a series of quite important issues had taken place over the past couple of weeks when the National Assembly was in its budget session, pushing the debate on finance bill to backburners and forcing the parliamentarians to talk on the current issues.
It was an unusual budget session in the sense as most of the time issues having no relevance to the budget hovered the proceedings and the matters pertaining to the finance bill slipped unnoticed without having proper debate and discussion on it, commented an MP from main Opposition party, Pakistan People’s Party.
The arrest of Altaf Hussain by Scotland Yard police on June 3 completely overwhelmed the budget speech by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as the MPs from MQM, perhaps for the first time since their stepping into the parliament, left for Karachi without attending the most important part of the budget session.
The members belonging to both treasury and opposition benches kept on discussing the arrest of Hussain and even the media corps in the Press Gallery also seemed a bit indifferent to the budget speech except a few journalists who have to cover the budget speech of the finance minister.
The National Assembly had hardly come out of a trance of Hussain’s arrest, who was later released on bail by the London police, there befell another big event when over a dozen terrorist barged into Karachi Airport and kept the security forces engaged in a gunfight for well over eight to 10 hours, once again taking the parliament by storm and the budget session once again become secondary matter, with all and sundry in the parliament, coming up with their comments on the matter with opposition parties coming down hard on government for its complete failure to maintain law and order situation.
Another unwarranted debate also triggered out of the event with Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan coming up with blame on Sindh government while taking the house into confidence on the whole episode. The Sindh government came up with a counter allegation placing the onus of responsibility of airport’s security with the federal government.
The echo of Karachi airport attack was still resonating in the corridors of the Parliament House when Pakistan Army had marked the announcement of full-scale military operation in North Waziristan Agency by striking the hideouts of militants in the restive areas, killing well over 100 local and foreigner militants.
Once again the Parliament fell in the grip of this major development, which was followed by the prime minister’s speech on the floor of the house, announcing the operation and giving reasons behind the failure of peace talks.
The MPs both from the treasury and opposition benches left the budget speech aside and coming up with speeches on the launch of full-scale operation against militants. Although all the major political parties supported the operation yet some MPs from opposition benches said that before the launch of full-scale operation the prime minister should have taken them into confidence.
To thwart the electoral reforms movement of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which was gaining momentum with each passing day, the prime minister came up with a letter addressed to the speaker National Assembly to constitute a parliamentary body to come up with recommendations for reformation in the electoral system in the country.
Once again the National Assembly was derailed from its original task to deliberate on the budget document and a new debate for and against the proposed parliamentary body gripped the parliamentarians mainly from the opposition benches.
The matter was under discussion when Model Town fiasco occurred with Punjab police raiding the residence of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Allama Tahirul Qadri and in the clash around a dozen PAT activists including two women were killed by the police firing while a policeman also lost his life in the clashes which remained in progress for well over 12 hours in Lahore, the hometown of Punjab Chief Minister Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif.
The gravity of the event was so profuse which had gripped all the political parties by storm and in this storm the federal budget 2014-15 had completely vanished with opposition parties coming up with scathing criticism on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and demanding the resignation of the Punjab chief minister as well as prime minister. The severity of the event is yet to over, when amid the announcement of sacking of Punjab Home Minister Rana Sanaullah and Personal Secretary to CM, the federal budget was finally approved by the National Assembly in a lacklustre fashion here with hardly any serious debate on it.

 
 
on epaper page 12
 
 
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