ISLAMABAD - The opposition parties on the last day of 21st National Assembly session (Wednesday) staged a walkout over multiple issues, including government discrimination in allocation of development funds, postponement of NFC award, privatisation of Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) and absence of ministers from the proceedings of the house

The house, with very thin presence of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, was informed by the government that there was no change in the route of Pak-China Economic Corridor.

The opposition members, including women on reserved seats, had been staging walkout for the last two days over discrimination in distribution of development funds by the government.

Taking the floor, Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah strongly criticised the government for not taking parliamentary proceedings seriously even after receiving threats to the democratic setup a couple of months ago. “The state minister for parliamentary affairs has also expressed his helplessness due to the absence of ministers during the proceedings, but no positive change is visible and government benches are seen empty,” he said.

About the National Finance Commission award, he said it should not be postponed for one year. “What is the reason behind postponing the NFC award?” he questioned.

Talking about State Minister Balighur Rahman’s statement for a standardised national curriculum of Pakistan Studies, Islamic Studies and other subjects, he termed it violation of the Constitution. “Is he trying to start a new debate in the country?” he questioned.

Shah further criticised the privatisation of HMC at low prices. He asked the government not to privatise it for only Rs 900 million. It was not understood why the HMC was being sold at throw-away prices, he said.

The opposition leader said there was discrimination in distribution of development funds. “I appeal to all opposition members to give back Rs 20 million allocated for uplift schemes,” he said and left the house with other parties’ members in protest. The opposition members also endorsed Khurshid Shah’s feelings, raising hands in support of his stance on development funds.

Giving a policy statement, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal made it clear to the opposition benches that there was no change in the route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

“If you have any original route, show us as we are ready to discuss it. Political factions should avoid giving negative statements as it creates fear among investors,” he said.

He further said the corridor project is not just the name of one road, but it envisages development of energy projects, port, roads and industrial collaboration with China.

About Balighur Rahman’s statement, the minister clarified that there was consensus of previous governments on the same curriculum in the provinces. “Though it is a provincial subject, there is no harm in building consensus on it,” he said.

About the privatisation of HMC, he said the government believed in transparent privatisation. He further said Pakistan was not getting a single dollar in loans for energy projects. The Chinese private sector would invest 35 billion to 37 billion dollars in the energy sector, he added.

Ahsan was of the view that Chinese investment would attract investors from other parts of the world, including the United States, Europe and Middle East.

About disparity in the allocation of development funds, he said, according to the Supreme Court, development funds were not being released to MNAs.

The house with very thin presence of not more than dozen MNAs passed a bill “Securities Industry and Protection of Investors Bill, 2015.

Earlier, replying to a call-attention notice moved by MQM lawmakers about acute shortage of water in Karachi, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal told the house that the project was being executed by the Sindh government. He further said the federal government had not received the demand from the provincial government.

To another call-attention notice about Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Training Dr Darshan said the government was providing help in admissions of the students selected for scholarships abroad under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package.

In the beginning of the proceedings, MQM lawmaker Kanwar Naveed, elected on t NA-246, took oath on the last day of the 21st session.