ISLAMABAD - Lawmakers from government and opposition in yesterday’s national assembly proceedings continued to blame ‘leadership and governments’ of each other for ‘wrong policies’ in the county.

In the daylong proceedings, the MNAs from both sides of the aisle came up with suggestions, blames, slurs and taunts, political point-scoring in their speeches on the federal budget.

The lawmakers from opposition, despite the ban on using word ‘Selected’, kept on using the word. In some of the speeches, they also used word ‘handpicked’ when the chair reminded them to respect all the elected members in the house.  Opposition parties’ members also requested the chair to issue production order of MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir so that they could represent their constituencies and participate in debate.

The Speaker said he was personally looking into it. “I have received a formal request for their production orders only on Saturday. I will seek legal opinion from the Ministry of Law. I will take my own opinion in this issue soon,” he said.

Taking part in the debate, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly rejected the federal budget 2019-20 asking the PTI government to withdraw its ‘anti-people budget’. “We will not accept the anti-people budget...This government have to adopt a democratic way otherwise it will have to go home,” said the chairman PPP.

Every Pakistani will feel the hardship due to this budget that is why it is anti-people, he remarked.

He said that freedom of expression should not be curbed as different views are heard in democratic systems to chalk out policies for the people.  “In my absence the deputy speaker expunged the word “selected” and banned it from this house but Imran Khan had thumped desk when he was called ‘Selected Prime Minister’ the first time in this very parliament,” he said, mentioning that  If Imran Khan was not a selected prime minister then why the committee to probe election rigging was formed.

“Expunging words in my speeches is also censorship,” he said. The economic situation of the country, he said, has deteriorated after the PTI took the rein.

Bilawal was of the view that the federation had not been able to collect taxes. “People are paying for this incompetence of PTI government whereas Sindh has collected taxes more than any province and also expanded its tax base,” he said.

Bilawal said that this time around three provinces will get less money from national kitty. Sindh has collected the most taxes and the federal government should learn from Sindh. He said that BISP program will not be allowed to be replaced by Ahsas Program. “Small businesses are being raised to the ground in the name of encroachment but the Bani Gala Palace was illegally regularized,” he said, terming it double standard on the part of government.

During the PPP government, he said, the world economy was under pressure but the PPP managed and the petrol prices were kept under control.

He said, “Parliament is the supreme institution and NAB and ISI and other institutions are answerable to parliament”.

“In this new Pakistan everything is destroyed from politics to economy and human rights to judiciary,” he said mentioning that the incompetent government is filing references against members of judiciary to pressurize the institution of judiciary.

Bilawal added that it is a disgrace that the Prime Minister could not handle “even the slightest bit of opposition”.  About the production orders of MNAs from North Waziristan, he said, “parliament is not complete until the representatives of North and South Waziristan are produced.”

Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, responding to Bilawal, strongly criticized the policies of both the previous governments. 

Giving reference of a book of Condoleezza Rice [the US secretary of State], he blamed that PPP-P Co-Chairman and former PM Benazir Bhutto begged for power even from United States. He read out some of the sentences from the book.  He said the PPP leaders were worried as to what would happen with corruption cases against and whether Benazir Bhutto would be elected Prime Minister for the third time. He also quoted another book titled ‘Obama’s War’, said the then President Asif Zardari asked CIA officials, “You continue drone attacks and we will continue to stage protest in the Parliament,” he said.

About former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he said the former PM had gone to UK in May, 2016 boarding a special plane for his medical treatment causing 327,000 US dollars to the national kitty and the expenditures on the special place were Rs 340 million.

About the construction of Raiwind Road, he said Rs 283.6 million were spent on the construction and Rs 100 crores were allocated for fencing of the residence. “While prime minister Imran Khan used his own money for the construction of the road leading to his house and fenced around his house made with the party fund,” he said, mentioning that the prime minister had recently refused to visit UK to watch the cricket world cup match between Pakistan and South Africa to save time and money.

BNP (Mengal) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal, taking part in the debate, suggested the government to form a parliamentary committee to look into the problems of Balochistan. Speaker Asad Qaisar, on it, asked Mengal to move a motion so that lawmakers could move forward on the issue.

Mengal asked the incumbent government to take elected representatives into confidence on Gwadar’s development as soon as possible.  He said his party would cooperate with the government if it follows the national agenda. “There must be independent election, independent judiciary, free media and fair and transparent accountability of all,” he said.

PML-N MNA Mariyam Aurangzeb, taking part in the debate, said that the PTI government has failed to deliver. “This is incompetent and ineligible government, which has no ability to deliver,” he said, mentioning that the prime minister had used to sell dream and now they should fulfil promises.

About the fund-raising campaign started on directives of the former Chief Justice, she said, more amount was spent on advertisements than the actual funds collected from it.

About the former prime minister, she said that her party’s leader Nawaz Sharif was facing wrath and vendetta. She was interrupted by the chair for using ‘selected’ for any elected member. “All are elected members under the constitution, avoid using this word”, said the deputy speaker. PPP-P’s information secretary Nafeesa Shah, on her turn, demanded of the chair to issue production orders of MNAs from North Waziristan.

“Issuing production orders of Asif Ali Zardari and Saad Rafique is victory of parliament,” she said, mentioning that there was a need to probe the matter of slapping a media person by minister Fawad Chaudhary. “How this government can run accountability and amnesty together,” she said. Another PPP-P MNA Hina Rabbani, taking part in the debate, said the present government has failed to deliver. “Either the current government is ineligible and incompetent or have no preparation to run government,” she said.

“A retired Brigadier Asad Munir had to commit suicide to clear his name from a NAB case,” Hina said and added, there should be freedom of speech in the House saying that if the word ‘selected’ is unparliamentary, then words calling someone as dacoits and thieves are more unparliamentary.

PPP-P’s Shazia Marri said the government has not provided relief to the masses in the federal budget. She criticized the government for not increasing the salaries of scale 21 and 22 employees. MQM-P Aminul Haq proposed to impose agriculture tax. He lauded Pakistan Army for not increasing the defence budget. PTI’s MNA Ali Nawaz criticized the decision for declaring Sindh Assembly as sub-jail. “In this way, someday you will declare Quaid-e-Azam mausoleum as sub-jail,” he said,” inviting protest from PPP-P lawmakers.