ISLAMABAD - Though the opposition in the National Assembly’s (NA) session on Monday welcomed the government’s gesture of opening the Kartarpur Corridor, it urged it to dispel the impression that Pakistan had tacitly accepted India’s illegal merger of occupied Kashmir.

However, the treasury benches expressed their belief that the opening of the corridor was a ‘right and revolutionary step’ by the government to facilitate Sikh community from India and rest of the world.

The debate on the Kartarpur Corridor started when an opposition lawmaker from PML-N Khurram Dastagir Khan said one-sided concession from Pakistan had so far not helped improve the relations between Pakistan and India.

“The result of this one-sided concession from Pakistan has so far borne no fruit,” he said. “By opening this corridor, the government has created an impression that Pakistan has accepted India’s recent annexation of Kashmir,” he said.

“This gesture by the government has seemingly failed to produce the desired results, so there is need to remove this impression immediately,” he asserted, which invited rumpus from the government benches.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, responding to a point of order, said that opening of the Kartarpur Corridor was a ‘right and revolutionary step’ by the government. “It is a big achievement on part of the PTI government, which believes in religious freedom,” the minister said. Mazari said that the government’s gesture was meant to facilitate Sikh community from India and also from rest of the world. “There is no need of point scoring on the right and revolutionary step taken by this government,” she said, and pointed out that there was no clarity in the stance of members from the opposition benches.

Mazari was interrupted during her speech by the speaker, as PPP-P’s Shahida Rehmani pointed out lack of quorum in the House. The chair adjourned the proceedings due to the lack of quorum. Earlier, PPP-P MNA Raja Pervaiz Ashraf welcomed opening of the corridor for Sikh community by declaring it as a good step. He said that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was also in favour of soft borders and improving relations with neighbouring countries.

Another PPP-P lawmaker Abdul Qadar Patel also appreciated the PTI government’s step. “Although the present government is showing goodwill gestures to India, but I have a question, whether we will be allowed to visit Ajmeer Sharif,” he questioned.

Govt, opposition members exchange hot words over Locusts attack:

The major opposition parties in the National Assembly on Monday came down hard on the government for not taking necessary measures to prevent locusts attack in Sindh. “Federal Ministry of Finance was alerted about the attack around a month before, but the required spray was not provided,” said opposition MNA Rao Muhammad Ajmal, on a point of order. He said that locusts might also spread to neighbouring Balochistan soon, which could badly affect crops. PPP-P’s Nawab Yusuf Talpur said that there was a need to control locusts attack in future.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad, while responding to the concerns raised by the opposition, made an attempt to pass on the buck to the provincial assembly. “I would like to inform the minister for national food security...This is a provincial subject,” he said.

This infuriated opposition members who strongly reacted to the minister’s attempt. National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser immediately intervened and assured to summon a parliamentary committee to deliberate on this matter today (Tuesday).

Hazara Motorway to

open on Friday:

Minister for Communications Murad Saeed informed the House that Hazara Motorway would be opened for traffic on Friday. The design of the motorway, he blamed, was changed by the previous government in order to oblige some big wigs. “Time and money of national exchequer was wasted,” he said, responding to a point of order from an opposition member.

The minister said as a result of the inquiry conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), an embezzled amount totalling Rs460 million had been recovered from the plunderers. “Will the opposition member apologize for change in design and waste of nation’s money,” he said.