ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly’s budget session on Friday saw heated arguments between Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah and Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif on the respect of judiciary, clash of institutions and sacrifices for democracy.

The House was supposed to discuss budgetary proposals, but both the senior lawmakers preferred to talk about other issues including PML-N leader Nehal Hashmi’s statement, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder case, the 12 May carnage etc.

The opposition after the speech of Khursheed Shah staged a walkout after the government not allow telecasting speeches of opposition members live on PTV.

Khawaja Asif, who also has the portfolio of defence minister, responding to the opposition leader’s speech, strongly condemned the statement of Nehal Hashmi, who, he said, was disowned by the ruling party within one hour after his speech came to the fore.

“Within one hour a legislator (Hashmi) lost his political identity, which is the proof and argument of our (PML-N) commitment,” Asif said adding that the PML-N took a swift action as not only his membership of Senate was revoked but also his basic party membership cancelled.

While talking about the PML-N’s respect for state institutions, Asif said that family members of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were appearing before the court. “This is because of respect for the judiciary. Salute to the courage of Nawaz for patiently bearing the allegations,” he said.

The minister also took credit for empowering the judiciary. “Our struggle and efforts are also included for an independent judiciary," he said cautioning that there was no need to lecture the PML-N. "Our institutions are much dear to us. We believe in powerful institutions,” he said responding to the opposition leader’s claims for not respecting the institutions by the ruling party.

“One son of the prime minister has appeared before the JIT thrice on the orders of the apex court and the other will also appear before the Supreme Court,” he said mentioning that it was for the first time in the history that a prime minister has presented his three generations for accountability.

He also expressed his astonishment at the PPP for not apprehending the murderers of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “They (PPP) know the links of the murderers,” he said adding that 15 million dollars was given to the UN for a probe in this matter. Admitting the sacrifices of the Bhutto family, he said they (PPP members) were taking ‘dividend’ from these sacrifices.

He personally supported the idea of running the proceedings of the House live on the state-run television. “Rather, I will support the assembly’s own channel to run the proceedings,” said Khwaja.

Before staging the walkout from the House, Khursheed Shah strongly criticised Nehal Hashmi’s statement.

“No one will subscribe to this that the statement was given by him on his own behalf,” he said adding that a “PPP member might have been hanged at ‘Minar-e-Pakistan” if he were to make such a statement. “The language used for the honourable judges was unfair and unacceptable,” he said terming the speech an attempt to create an atmosphere of conflict between state institutions.  He was of the view that the conflict among state institutions will have devastating consequences.  He also mentioned the incident May 12 mayhem in Karachi.

Shah said that the PPP has given a number of sacrifices in country’s history. “You have not sacrificed even a chicken or pigeon in the political history,” he said. The opposition leader said that there was a need to run the Parliament in a democratic way.

“Why the government is afraid of telecasting the proceedings of the Parliament live. All assemblies should telecast the proceedings of the House,” Shah proposed. He said that the incumbent government has rendered no sacrifice for democracy.

“The purpose of ‘Awami Assembly’ was to reveal the loopholes in federal budget 2017-18,” he said while referring to a parallel assembly the opposition parties held a few days back after the opposition leader was denied the opportunity to air his speech live on PTV.

He also criticised the chair [NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq] for starting the proceedings of the House one hour late from the scheduled time. “The non-seriousness clearly reflects that the government is just fulfilling a formality to pass the budget,” he said and left the house with the rest of the opposition lawmakers in protest. He also spoke one sentence about the current budget during his whole speech. “It is not a people-friendly budget as there is no proper relief in it,” he added.

During the Friday’s session, only one lawmaker from the treasury benches spoke on the budget as most of the time was consumed by other discussions.

Government lawmaker Shaista Pervaiz Malik said that the budget will bring a positive change in the lives of the people and improve the living standard of the common man.