ISLAMABAD           -         The opposition in Monday’s National Assembly proceedings staged a strong protest during the passage of the finance bill for the fiscal year 2020-21, raising concerns over the recent increase in petroleum prices and depriving government employees of the annual increase in salaries and pensions.

The members from opposition and treasury benches throughout the proceedings engaged in verbal brawls on matters related the resignation of the Prime Minister, degree verification of pilots and Osama Bin Laden.

The house witnessed two different rounds of verbal brawls [between government and opposition members] including PML-N’s Khwaja Muhmmad Asif and PTI’s Fawad Chaudhary and JUI-F’s Maulana Asad Mehmood and PTI’s Ali Amin Gandapur.

The opposition, before staging a protest during the winding speech, also made a failed attempt to disrupt the proceedings by challenging the government over one of amendments. The treasury benches defeated opposition with 41 votes and successfully rejected the amendment proposed by its opponents. The opposition members holding colorful placards inscribed with ‘Budget-Unacceptable’, ‘Prime Minister–Unacceptable’, ‘Petrol Chor and Cheeni Chor’, ‘Government responsible for Price-hike and Poverty’ kept raising anti-government slogans at the time of windup speech.

At the outset of proceedings, PML-N’s parliamentary leader Khwaja Muhammad Asif raised concerns that the government had also invited some COVID-19 positive members to secure their numerical strength to pass the finance bill 2020-21.

Regarding the terrorist attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi, he said the country is united against terrorism.  Khwaja Asif also engaged in a debate with Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary.

“Don’t force me to say such a thing about you that you will find it difficult to sit in this House,” he said, inviting unstoppable anger from the government benches and Fawad Chaudhary. The chair rushed to cool down the messy situation as Chaudhry kept asking the chair to make Asif withdraw his statement. He also criticised the government for increasing the prices of petroleum products. “Government has increased the prices of petroleum products, which will have an effect on other products,” he said, asking the government to withdraw notification.

Earlier, PPP-P’s Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari targeted the Prime Minister over his policies to control COVID-19, calling Osama Bin Laden a martyr etc. “The Prime Minister has two choices, either tender an apology to the public or resign from his seat immediately,” he said, criticising the Minister for Aviation Ghulm Sarwar over his statement about pilots.

Minister for Communication Murad Saeed , responding to the concerns raised by PPP-P’s chairman, said that the government had presented a people friendly budget. The opposition walked out from the proceedings at the start of Murad Saeed’s speech. On it, Murad Saeed remarked that the opposition would return soon after his speech.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, responding to the concerns raised by PPP-P’s chairman, strongly denied the demand of the opposition about the resignation of the Prime Minister.

“Why should the government not take notice of wrongdoings? Government will always take notice and on wrongdoings and misappropriations,” he remarked.

Earlier, MMA’s MNA Maulana Asad Mehmood and PTI’s Ali Amin Gandapur exchanged heated remarks. Both the party members challenged each other for contesting elections. The chair intervened and asked both the members to avoid personal attacks.