ISLAMABAD - The opposition parties vowed Tuesday to block the ‘anti-people’ budget in the parliament as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government presented a deficit financial plan for the fiscal year 2019-20.

Major opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) termed it a budget dictated by the International Monetary Fund and designed to crush the poor.

Speaking to journalists after the government unveiled the budget in the parliament, PPP Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the opposition parties will try their best to stop the approval of the plan in the National Assembly.

“This is an anti-people budget. We will try to stop this budget in the National Assembly. Hopefully it will not get passed by the National Assembly,” he said.

Bilawal said the PPP would have supported the government if the budget was poor-friendly. “But we protested when we found it was designed to crush them (the poor),” he added.

He said the recent arrests of Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz were made to divert public attention from the ‘anti-people’ budget. “The government does not have anything to sell. They are trying to arrest people to hide their failures,” he said.

He demanded of the Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar to issue production orders for Asif Ali Zardari, Mohsin Dawar, Ali Wazir and Khawaja Saad Rafiq.

Bilawal said the government tried to rush the budget and even the opposition members were not provided the copies of the plan.

The PPP chief mocked Prime Minister Imran Khan over Twitter saying the “PTIMF budget. History will record how Imran (Khan) danced as our economy burned.”

PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman said Pakistan’s first total ‘made in IMF’ budget was presented in the parliament.

“The government is peddling very hard with political vendetta arrests during investigation, to divert attention from its colossal failure today. What a perfect storm they have created for themselves,” she said.

She said as the budget was presented, Pakistan was facing a tsunami of inflation. “What did the government announce? Another appeal for non-tax filers to sail through the same tax amnesty scheme they made fiery speeches against. If this inflation and budget was not so crippling I would laugh,” she remarked.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz was arrested to divert attention from the failure of economic survey and the budget.

“To divert attention from historical failures like economic survey and budget, arrests are being made. These arrests will not save you from the anger of people,” she added.

Maryam Nawaz warned the ‘falling walls’ cannot be saved with arrests. “In a government where the whole nation is in a state of arrest, the Prime Minister cannot save himself with the arrests of the opposition,” the PML-N leader said.

PML-N Spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb said the budget was ‘IMF dictated” and designed to over burden the poor. “The incompetent government has presented a disappointing budget. The IMF has today crushed the economy of the country. This budget should not get passed,” she asserted.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazal) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman predicted the downfall of the government as they had not delivered a single good news for the poor.

He said Balochistan National Party (Mengal) President Akhtar Mengal could soon be in the opposition. He further said that all religious parties were on one page.

He said that an All Party Conference will be held at the end of June. “The country’s economic situation is in a dire situation. The budget is a complete disappointment,” he contended.

Earlier in the day, BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal called on PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “Country’s political situation was discussed in this important meeting. Sardar Akhtar Mengal said that he wanted to express his solidarity with the Chairman on the unjustified arrest of Asif Ali Zardari,” said a PPP statement.

It said during this meeting the issues of dire economic conditions of the country were also discussed.  “Sardar Akhtar Mengal said that the government failed to implement his 6 points demands despite ten months have passed. The Chairman PPP said that PPP is of the view that the six points presented by BNP-M is fully justified. Chairman PPP said that his party is aware of the difficulties faced by the people of Balochistan and any progress without the aspirations of the people of Balochistan will be meaningless. PPP gave Aghaz-e-Huqooq- Balochistan (initiative to give rights to the Baloch people) and through it the realization of demands of Baloch people were initiated,” the statement added.

Bilawal also condemned the arrest of Hamza Sharif, leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly at the hands of the National Accountability Bureau.

In a statement issued here, the PPP Chairman said that NAB was targeting only the opposition as its Chairman had on record hinted that arrests of government members may result in downfall of the government.

He said the government was victimising the opposition to pre-empt the massive protests from the people against the nose diving of economy and brutal budgetary attacks on the poor in the form of unbearable inflation, budget deficits, unprecedented price-hike and dollar flight.

Bilawal’s spokesperson Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the PPP chief had decided along with other opposition parties to attend the National Assembly and listen to the budget speech with due attention in the assembly.

“This decision was taken despite the fact that the it was likely to be an IMF-imposed budget and despite witch hunting and a reign of terror let lose by the puppet government against the opposition leaders in the name of accountability. Chairman PPP was even ready to applaud the government if the budget turned out to be people friendly and provided the much needed relief to the people groaning under poverty, inflation and unemployment,” he said.

Prior to the presentation of the budget, the joint opposition in the National Assembly held a meeting. The meeting was jointly presided over by opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal.