ISLAMABAD - Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Friday came down hard on the government for not taking parliament in a serious manner as not more than 40 members from both sides of the aisle were present during a debate on the budget for the year 2018-19.

With the start of the proceeding, the opposition leader strongly criticized the disinterest level of treasury MNAs in the last days of the incumbent government.

“Leave the debate on budgetary proposals aside as it is useless in the absence of other MNAs,” Shah said as only two ministers and around 40 MNAs were present in the House.

“Is this the respect of vote?...Parliament is a supreme institution and everyone should work to maintain its sanctity,” Shah said adding that both PTI chief Imran Khan and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif never gave respect to the parliament.

The House witnessed a very thin presence throughout the proceedings. National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said that both government and opposition MNAs should take part in the house proceedings. “It is the main responsibility of the government (to ensure the quorum),” he remarked.

Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Prizada, taking part in the discussion, said that there should be a respect for the leadership. “A lover of democratic setup always elevates from the grassroots level,” he said.

About budgetary proposals, Jamaat-e-Islami MNA Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award could not be announced for the last many years.  He criticized the Federal Bureau Revenue for issuing ‘wrong’ figures.

“If provincial governments present a budget for four months, what will be their share in the divisible pool from the federal government,” he questioned. 

PPP’s Azra Fazal criticized the federal government for not achieving economic targets including GDP growth and the budget deficit.

PTI’s Amjad Ali Khan criticized the interest-based system (usury system) in the country. “Law should be equal for all,” he said. PML-N’s Khadim Hussain, taking part in the debate, said that those involved in the sexual assault on children should be publically hanged till death. “Kalabagh dam should have been constructed...All provinces should sit and discuss this matter,” he said.

The House at the fag end of the proceedings witnessed a verbal brawl between MQM-P and PPP lawmakers.

MQM-P’s Syed Waseem Hasnain, taking part in the debate, strongly criticized the PPP’s Sindh government for not providing relief to masses.  “After minus Altaf and minus Nawaz, now the wind has started blowing towards Sindh,” he said.

He requested the chief justice to take action on non-provision of safe drinking water and other pending development projects. “I will set myself on fire if I was not permitted to speak,” said Hasnain, when the deputy speaker asked him to wind up his speech.

He said that the children in Sindh were dying due to malnourishment. “The Sindh government has not provided an appropriate relief to masses,” he said, inviting a rumpus from PPP lawmakers.

 “Ayan Ali (model) case should also be opened,” he said.

PPP’s Aijaz Jhakrani rushed to take the floor and came down hard on the MQM-P for creating the law and order situation in the past. He accused the MQM-P of involvement in extortion. “Who was behind the Jinnhpur map,” he said.

The matter regarding renaming the Physics Department of Quaid-e-Azam University was also discussed in the house. The lawmakers from the opposition claimed that it was not the National Centre for Physics (NCP), which was renamed. They also condemned the way it was discussed on the social media and other sections of the press.

In December 2016, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif proposed to honour the first Nobel laureate physicist of Pakistan, Prof Abdus Salam by naming the NCP after him.

The House on Thursday passed a unanimous resolution moved by Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, proposing that Physics Department of Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad should be named after Muslim scientist Abu al Fath Abdul Rehman Al-Khazini. The NCP and the physics department are two different entities. 

Taking part in the discussion, a lawmaker from south Punjab Amir Dogar, who had also signed on the resolution, also inquired from the mover of resolution that on whose name the department had been named, which is being renamed after Khazini. “I was told that it was not in the name of any person,” he said. PPP’s MNA Ejaz Jhakrani said that said his party would never become part of any resolution, which proposed changing the name of NCP. PTI MNA Azhar Jadoon said that they signed the resolution with a good intention but some section of the media carried a ‘false story’.