ISLAMABAD  -   The National Assembly in Thursday’s proceedings saw rumpus over the ‘objectionable’ remarks of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry against the previous governments’ alleged flawed policies, prompting the joint opposition to stage a brief walkout from the house.

The opposition stayed away from the proceedings for around half-hour and returned after the minister agreed to apologise.

With the onset of proceedings, the atmosphere of the house turned tense when PPP-P’ Nafeesa Shah sought permission to move a privilege motion against the information minister for his allegation against her party’s stalwart Khursheed Shah about the appointments in the PBC.

She was supported by former opposition leader Khursheed Shah, saying the matter should be referred to the concerned committee to probe the allegations.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary, during the opposition party’s members’ discussion with the speaker, entered the house and took the floor and started strongly criticising the previous governments’ policies.

“They (PPP-P and PML-N) should be ashamed for looting the public money and ruining the national entities, including PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills,” the information minister said, inviting uproar from the opposition side.

In a furious tone, Chaudhry went on to say that he would rather suggest to hang them upside down by applying the Saudi government’s formula. He also used some words against the opposition parties’ members, which were promptly expunged by the speaker.

Speaker Asad Qaiser continued to expunge the remarks being used by the minister terming them non-parliamentary. “You should not use non-parliamentary words, as being a treasury benches’ member it is your responsibility to run the house smoothly,” the speaker added.

However, the minister continued his tirade against the opposition. Having a smile on his face, he said that there was no harm to speak against these persons. He said that the PML-N leader Mushahidullah Khan got his brother and cousin posted at PIA.

PPP-P’s Khursheed Shah rushed to take the floor and strongly criticised the minister for using the ‘objectionable’ words.  He said they would not sit in the house untill and unless the minister tenders an apology.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, giving a chance to the government, said that they would not stage walkout if the minister takes his words back.

However, the minister said he used these words in a proverbial way and would not tender apology. The joint opposition, on this response of the minister, staged a walkout from the proceedings. 

The minister blamed they recruited hundreds of their blue-eyed people in PIA, Radio Pakistan and Steel Mills. “Even a taxi driver in America was appointed as Director General of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC),” he said without mentioning the name of the DG PBC.

He said that they are providing four billion rupees to the National Broadcaster and its annual deficit is 1.25 billion rupees.

He further said Khursheed Shah’s committee had regularised the services of eight hundred people in the Radio Pakistan in one-day. Moreover, he said political appointments were also made in the PIA.

The opposition, after the assurances from the treasury benches that the minister would tender apology over his remarks, rejoined the parliamentary proceeding by ending their walkout. However, later, the minister apologised from the opposition.

Earlier, Nafeesa Shah said that the minister in his tweet blamed former opposition leader Khursheed Shah for recruiting 800 people in the PBC. She also read out a tweet by Chaudhry and asked NA Speaker Asad Qaiser to refer the matter to the privileges committee.

“PPP destroyed all institutions including PBC by filling its own cronies, in three days Khursheed Shah filled 800 people only in Radio! costing 7 crore Rs additional burden, Govt is drowning 5 B Rs every year only on Radio thanks to PPP visionless policy,” according to the information minister’s tweet, read out by the Nafeesa Shah. Responding to a call attention notice about a major crime of child abduction in Karachi threatening human rights, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said he would visit Karachi to hold talks with Sindh government, chairman PPP-P Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for capacity building of police department and resolving the matter.

He was of the view that necessary legislations would be made for protection of children. He also urged provinces to fulfil their responsibility.

DEBATE ON BUDGET

PML-N’s senior member Ahsan Iqbal, taking part in the debate, claimed that PML-N in its tenure had worked for development of the country. “If the present government takes any step against the CPEC project it would be tantamount to anti-state,” he said.

About donation for the dam, he said, the collected money would be in no use for constructing dam. “The money collected through donations will make no difference,” he said, criticising the PTI for staging sit-in in front of the parliament in the past.

“How much money was collected for selling buffaloes and cars of the PM House,” he asked, mentioning that how the government would arrange transport for guests next summit. He said the incumbent government had not seen any actual crisis when it had taken reins.

PPP-P’s senior leader/ former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the PPP-P government had made many positive changes in the country. “It was our government which ended terror threat in the country,” he said adding that the wheat crisis was ended in his government’s era. “PPP-P had increased salaries of the salaried class,” he said and claimed the former President Asif Ali Zardari had paid many visits to China for CPEC project. “We were weak in the media strategy so can’t take credit of many achievements,” he said.

MQM-P’s Salahuddin, on his turn, lauded the proposals of supplementary budget introduced by finance minister Asad Umar.

 

 

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN