ISLAMABAD - The opposition parties for second consecutive day on Tuesday strongly criticised federal government in the National Assembly for not taking Shikarpur tragic incident seriously and increasing GST on petroleum products to 27 percent sans parliament approval.

Despite facing severe diatribe, the government side just assured the opposition parties on taking the house into confidence about the linkages of this terrorist attack but avoided making any pledge to visit the district by the prime minister or any other key minister - as demanded by opposition lawmakers.

The house also witnessed furore when Speaker Ayaz Sadiq refused to give floor to AML chief Sheikh Rashid to speak on Shikarpur incident. “This is prerogative of opposition leader to speak first,” said the speaker, when Sheikh Rashid insisted on speaking on the issue.

The speaker further remarked that it would not be appropriate to speak against parliament and at the same time participating in the parliamentary proceedings. Ayaz Sadiq asked Rashid to take back the unparliamentary words which he had uttered against the parliament and its honourable members. “As a custodian of the house, I have to block the way of those who attempt to malign the parliament,” he said, hinting at Rashid’s criticism of government in PTI’s sit-ins.

However, Sheikh Rashid, on the request of opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah, got the microphone and stressed the need for bringing Shia-Sunni leadership at one platform to avoid such attacks.

Earlier, Khursheed Shah criticised federal government for not taking Shikarpur incident seriously. “Even interior minister did not utter a single word despite being present in the house,” he said, adding that they (PPP) even had been facing taunts of being ‘friendly opposition’.

About petrol crisis, Shah said government’s negligence had been exposed by these back-to-back incidents. “Government ministers had given contradictory statements during petrol crisis, which caused huge loss to the national kitty,” he said, adding as it was not enough and the government thought it appropriate to suspend four bureaucrats for this major failure.

“Why are you pushing us to streets for protests, as we need resolution of the issues in the parliament,” he said while criticising the government for increasing GST on petroleum products to 27 percent without taking approval from parliament. He demanded withdrawal of this unjust raise in GST.

Taking part in debate, MQM’s Muzamil Qureshi criticised federal government for not passing on benefit of reducing petroleum prices to the masses. “Items of daily use are being sold at the same price as before. Raise in GST should be reversed,” he said and also criticised Sindh government for not arranging proper security measures in schools.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab said the government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif since its inception was giving top priority to maintenance of peace in the country, particularly in Karachi and Sindh. He said the PM had chaired several meetings in Karachi to bring lull to the restive situation in commercial hub of the country.

He said everyone was well aware of law and order situation in Sindh and Karachi during the PPP regime and incidents of kidnapping for ransom and targeting killing were on rise. The minister said the PM had taken strict steps to ensure maintenance of law and order in Karachi which had never taken in the past. He said we should not indulge in mere blame game and eulogize positive measures taken by the government.

Aftab said development of any country directly linked with peace in tranquility. He assured that the government would leave no stone unturned to provide relief to masses. “The interior minister will give statement in the house (on security situation) as every city of the country is dear to us,” he said, adding that the relevant ministers will take the house into confidence on Shikarpur incident.

No investors would opt to invest in restive and violate region, the minister said. He also assured the house that menace of power loadshedding and shortage of CNG would be curtailed during PML-N government tenure. The government has launched power projects of 10,400MW which would not only cope with power loadshedding but also usher a new era of development.

The minister said the PML-N was also blamed for being a friendly opposition during PPP regime but they never destabilised the then PPP government. He said the government would complete its constitutional tenure and expressed the hope that all issues would be resolved with joint efforts of all parties.

Later, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the house that government learnt lesson from the petrol shortage last month and build up stocks of petrol which is evident from the fact that no shortage was reported on February 1 when three times more petrol was consumed due to reduction in its price.

Responding to a call attention notice about clearance of 232 vehicles worth billions of rupees on pre-dated papers, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said that smuggled cars will be impounded at all costs.