Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday that there was no sincerity in a claim that the Budget (2019-20) was formulated in the finance department [of the government].

As the session of the National Assembly (NA) resumed on Thursday, Mr Zardari addressed the House for the first time, after his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi, following issuance of his production order by the National Assembly Secretariat on Wednesday.

“My arrest has not affected the PPP. Peoples Party has rendered great sacrifices,” the PPP co-chairman said, while asking who would be held accountable in the country?

“If there is no flaw in the budget, then why the poor have been under miserable conditions?” he went on to ask.

He referred to the current economic policies as the primary reason for the hardships of industrialists, and said: “Businessmen have been in a state of fear and panic.”

“This wave of arrests must end now…Those powers who bring the government [into power] have to think,” he added, while warning that the situation must not escalate to such an extent that the general public take to streets.

“The salaries of the government employees have been increased [in the proposed budget], and on the other hand taxes have been imposed,” he said in an ironic manner.

“The FBR even sends notice on a cheque of Rs5 lakh,” he said.

“Old memories have been revisited as I come in the assembly, jails are not new for us,” he stated, adding people ponder over what would happen to them if Zardari has been arrested.

He said he came to know about the [proposed] budget in the newspapers.

The former president also said that his party was ready to sit for talks [with the government] for forming economic policy.

Yesterday, the production order was issued for Zardari, and according to it NA Speaker Asad Qaiser "considers their presence during the said session necessary".

Zardari had been taken into custody by the NAB on June 10 after his pre-arrest bail plea was rejected by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the fake accounts case. His sister, Faryal Talpur, was taken into custody on June 14. Both PPP leaders are currently on remand.