ISLAMABAD -  Top opposition parties rejected the national budget presented by the government on Friday, terming it “anti-poor”.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) said that the government has placed the country further under foreign debt.

PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik said that the government had not given anything to the poor in the budget.

Talking to journalists after, the PPP senator said that the budget was against the poor. “They have not raised the salaries in accordance with the inflation,” he said.

He said that the ad-hoc increase of 10 percent in salaries was a joke. “This government itself is running on ad-hocism and trying to run the country the same way.”

Malik said that the government had pushed the country into tremendous debt and the next government will find it hard to drag the nation from this economic crisis.

He said that the government had imposed indirect taxes and was beating the people who were demanding their rights.

“They are damaging the democracy. They beat up farmers for demanding rights. Instead of providing relief, they are silencing them,” he said.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar earlier proposed an ad-hoc increase of 10 percent in government employees’ salaries.

Presenting the national budget, Dar said the minimum monthly wage has been increased from Rs13,000 to Rs15,000.

This week, the PPP had demanded of the government to set the minimum wage at Rs18,000 besides giving 25 percent raise in salaries and pensions.

In its shadow budget, the PPP had called for a separate fund for the social protection of vulnerable groups and including transgenders in the poverty alleviation flagship Benazir Income Support Programme.

Commenting on the budget, PTI’s Asad Umar said under the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government the foreign debt rose by 25 percent.

“This government has doubled the foreign debt. They have done nothing for the people except pushing them into crises due to their anti-poor policies,” he said.

Speaking to the journalists, Umar said that Pakistan’s gross foreign debt had crossed Rs22,000 billion.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made tall claims of ending energy crises and reviving the economy but failed miserably.

Umar said the investment in the country was at the lowest in the last 30 years. “They are facilitating their own supporters and damaging the national interest,” he said.

MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar said the budget was just a “status-quo”. “This budget has nothing for the poor, youth, women and the non-Muslims. They have just tried to play with the numbers,” he said.

Sattar said that the government had piled up taxes on the poor and thrown them under foreign debt. “Sales tax ratio should be reduced from 17 percent to nine percent. Petroleum levy should also be withdrawn,” he added.

Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari denounced the baton charge of farmers in Islamabad as ‘brutal, vicious and unacceptable.’

He said that the government wanted to teach a lesson to a community that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regime perceives as outside his political constituency.

In a statement, the former president said that he was profoundly shocked and grieved over the baton charge on farmers who had gathered in Islamabad so as to be heard ahead of the national budget.

“Instead of heeding the cries of farmers, the regime chose to silence their anguished voice through the brute use of state force,” he said.

“It is a crime not only against the farmers but also against the nation for which the Nawaz regime will have to be held accountable and punished.”

Zardari said agriculture was the mainstay of the national economy and the growing frustration among the farming community will undermine food security.

PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former president had asked the party parliamentarians to vociferously protest in the Parliament and reach out to the farmers and assure them of all out support.

He said that the PPP government’s policies of raising wheat support price and lowering tariff for tube wells increased the purchasing power of rural population, helped the country achieve self-sufficiency in wheat and ushered in prosperity in the rural Pakistan.

“Meeting the legitimate demands of farmers is a peanut price for ensuring food security of the 200 million people,” he added.

The present government, he said, had doubly harmed the farmers. “It not only neglected the farming sector but also diverted precious resources to politically visible projects like Metro bus in Islamabad for political mileage,” he said.

Zardari assured the farmers throughout the country that the PPP will stand by them and raise its voice for the promotion of agriculture and welfare of the farmers.

“Not long ago, the Nawaz regime committed atrocities against the tenants of farmlands in Okara and now the entire farming community has been targeted for victimisation,” he said.