ISLAMABAD - The treasury and opposition in the Tuesday’s National Assembly proceedings traded barbs on multiple issues leading to a boycott by the opposition parties.

The current economic situation, Israeli aircraft controversy and Saudi economic package mainly dominated the five-hour long sitting.

Soon after the proceedings started, they were suspended for an hour due to lack of quorum – before the house could take up any agenda item.

The government side initiated a debate on current economic situation and the things went ahead smoothly until the last remarks of Finance Minister Asad Umar.

The minister’s remarks about JUI-F chief Fazlur Rahman sparked a verbal brawl as members of the religio-political party objected strongly. The issue kept affecting the debate on economic condition, despite speaker’s orders to expunge the minister’s words.

OPPOSITION BOYCOTT

JUI-F lawmaker Aabdul Wasay with the support of his party members demanded the chair to ask finance minister to tender apology on his remarks.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi rushed in to calm down the situation but JUI-F members kept demanding apology from Asad, who had already left the house after presenting the picture of country’s economy.

PPP senior member and former opposition leader Khursheed Shah also jumped into the foray and asked the government to ensure presence of finance minister in the house.

“We [Opposition] are not here [just] to listen to the Bhashen (lecture) of finance minister, as he should remain present during the whole debate on the economy,” said Shah while condemning his remarks about Fazl.

He, after facing repeated interwruption by the treasury benches members during his wwspeech, announced that they were boycotting the proceedings till the presence of Asad Umar in the house. The entire opposition members supported the former opposition leader and left the house in protest.

Asad ON ECONOMIC SITUATION

Finance Minister Asad Umar opening the debate on economic situation shared the reason for government’s seeking loans from different sources instead of only relying on International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“We [government] approached friendly countries as well as the IMF for help so as to not be dependent on any single source,” he said, rejecting the impression that government’s policy about IMF programme had caused the stock market to crash.

“When we went to Saudi Arabia we signed a $3 billion deal without any conditionality,” he said.

He mentioned that previous governments too had approached the IMF and expressed current government’s resolve to take this fund “for the last time”.

“We [government] will make efforts to improve the economic situation, so that the next government will only be dependent on its own resources,” he said.

Asad said they had to seek help from outer sources as the current account deficit was growing rapidly. He also revealed that the trade deficit had increased from 4.2 to 6.6 percent.

The minister, at the end of his speech, commented about the remarks of JUI-F’s chief which created rumpus in the house.

 

 

ISRAEL AIRCRAFT CONTROVERSY

PML-N senior MNA and former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked the government to take the house into confidence about IMF package, and assistance sought from China and Saudi Arabia. He also asked about the alleged landing of an Israeli aircraft in Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the reports about Israeli plane “false and baseless”. “There is no truth in it, I have already clarified it,” he added.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif said “we accept the explanation but there is no harm in forming a committee to probe the matter.”

JUI-F lawmaker Maulana Abul Wasay totally rejected the government’s response on this issue. He also asked the government to form a committee on it.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad, on his turn, remarked that raising the issue of Israeli aircraft on Black Day [for Kashmir] was a big conspiracy to divide the nation.

“Pakistan’ intelligence institutions are vigilant enough to watch and control any such move,” he said, mentioning that a demand about formation of a committee on it is tantamount to expressing no confidence in the country’s defence institutions.

 

 

Fawad’s onslaught

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry came down hard on opposition for its boycott of the proceedings.

“We are asking opposition to ‘NA-RO’ [stop crying] but they are stressing for NRO [a clandestine deal over corruption cases],” he commented.

Speaking after the opposition members walked out of the house, he said the previous governments were responsible for ruining the country’s institutions.

“All those who now sit on front rows of opposition are responsible for current situation of the country,” he said. The Public Sector Entities of the country were ruined by these opposition benches members, he added.

About opposition’s protest, the minister ridiculed the opposition members for boycotting the proceedings.

“They [opposition] are avoiding the debate on economy,” the minister said and linked their boycott with the presence of PML-N supermo Nawaz Sharif in the Parliament House.

“Actually they wanted to have a meeting with Nawaz Sharif, who, he said, has no political future.

About JUI-F’s protest, he said the forerunners of this party were not in favour of creation of Pakistan.

Fawad said that the people and the businessmen were reposing confidence in the country’s economy now as a result of the leadership of Premier Imran Khan.

He further commented that this government had got the Saudi package not to fill its own accounts but for the people of this country.

“Now Pakistan is even being asked to play a leader’s role in getting resolved the complicated conflict in the Middle East,” he said, adding that the prime minister would not make any compromise on the country’s interests.