ISLAMABAD - The government came under severe criticism from opposition parties in National Assembly on Tuesday for not providing relief to the masses.

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The opposition parties, on the first private members day of the current session, criticised the government for not properly handling petroleum crisis, hold a census, non-fulfilling the constitutional role of the National Engineering Corporation (NEC) etc. The house in its four hours session witnessed a very thin attendance from the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

At a time when the members were discussing the issue of fuel shortage in the country causing a delay in a PIA flight and other matters, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jamal Kamal suddenly left the house without sharing the reasons behind the shortage of petroleum. Pakistan People’s Party MNAs Naveed Qamar and Ghulam Mustafa Shah raised the issue of fuel shortage causing a delay in the PIA flight.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad told the house that there was no shortage of fuel in the country. “There is an issue of liability between the PIA and the PSO which may have caused the delay of a PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad, and State Minister Kamal will further respond to it,” he said.

Responding to concerns raised by Muttahida Qaumi Movement MNA Sheikh Salahuddin about the census, Minister for Safron Abdul Qadir Baloch said that the government has planned to conduct census before March 2017.

“The credit goes to PML-N for carrying out the census in the country in its past tenures,” the minister said, adding the army personnel would be engaged to carry out the exercise.

Opposition MNAs expressed serious concerns for not holding the census in the country. “The government should fix a date for holding the census as mere promises would not serve a real purpose,” said MNA Salahuddin, while moving a resolution.

Pakistan People’s Party MNA Aijaz Jhakrani said that the census would help evaluate the requirements of health, education and other departments.” He asked the government to also evolve a proper population policy. The house rejected the minimum fixation of pension of government employees at Rs50,000 per month after a motion was moved by Parveen Masood Bhatti.

Treasury bencher Rana Hayat criticised the mover and PPP MNA Shazia Marri for raising an “unrealistic issue” in the house. “How can the government give a pension of Rs50,000 to a low-grade government servant after retirement,” he said.

Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal refused to accept the proposal saying “it would be difficult for the government to provide equal pension to all retired employees”.

Marri, on her turn, asked the government to increase pension amount of all government servants. “People in our country are afraid of retirement due to financial constraints,” she said.

A number of agenda items were deferred and withdrawn by members as only one bill “The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill, 2016” was introduced in the house. The bill was moved by Parveen Masood Bhatti.

The majority of lawmakers present in the house rejected the idea floated by the MQM members to play ‘national anthem’ before the proceedings of the house.

A resolution was adopted to yearly send a high-level official delegation to commemorate the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) at his Roza to pay homage on behalf of Pakistan.

Minister of State for Religious Affairs Amin Hasnat agreed to adopt the resolution saying that the government would cooperate on the matter. “Every country has its own rules,” he said before giving his consent to it.

Another resolution moved by MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin regarding unified pay scales for all the federal government employees was rejected by the government side.

Responding to a call-attention notice about increasing trend of use of drugs by the students in schools, Minister of State for CAAD Tariq Fazal Chaudhary said that there was no such case reported in Islamabad in this regard. He categorically rejected the facts and figures presented by an NGO in its report.

The house also deferred “The Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad (Amendment) Bill, 2016”.