ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: In what appears to be a sign of the widening chasm between the government and opposition parties especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the joint opposition on Wednesday boycotted the Senate proceedings leading to the session’s adjournment for the second consecutive day.
The development bears significance ahead of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) much trumpeted Raiwand march, to be held tomorrow (Friday).
Like Tuesday, the Senate’s session on Wednesday also ended unexpectedly on a hostile note after the opposition lawmakers protested over the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led Punjab government’s decision to disallow the PPP stalwart and National Assembly’s Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah from participating in a farmers’ protest in Lahore.
Soon after the question hour, Senate’s Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan informed Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani that the opposition parties had decided to boycott the Senate proceedings in protest against the ‘highhanded, brutal and coercive’ antics of Punjab government.
“Countless farmers have been arrested without any reason and unlawfully thrown behind bars. The government wasted Rs341 billion on Farmers Package but there has been no trickledown effect on the abysmal conditions the farmers are grappling with.
“When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took on the government, our astute finance minister backtracked and said only Rs30 billion were allocated for the package. The farmers’ protests are totally justified and the tyrannical methods of the Punjab government are height of irrationality,” Aitzaz said
Meanwhile, lawmakers from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Balochistan National Party- Mengal (BNP-Mengal) also joined the PPP to leave the Senate hall.
In a desperate bid, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab moved to pacify the aggrieved opposition but it refused to pay any attention to the minister and boycotted the proceedings.
Later, the PPP’s Sherry Rehman returned to the house only to point out the lack of quorum. Upon counting, Rabbani suspended the proceedings for over 30 minutes. Upon recounting, the quorum was found to be unmet following which the chairman Senate adjourned the Senate session till Thursday.
A PTI lawmaker, requesting anonymity, claimed that leaders from the PPP and the JI assured the PTI leadership of their undeclared support for Raiwind march.
“The parliamentary unity we have demonstrated today is an expression of our informal understanding reached on the Rawind march. On the surface, the PTI may be alone on the Raiwind march issue but a lot is going on behind the scene,” he claimed.
Earlier in a written reply, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar revealed that the Sust Dry Port, which is the entry point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), neither has a warehouse to handle Chinese cargo nor does the government have a plan to construct one.
“There is no warehouse at Sost Dry Port,” said Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, in a written reply to a question by Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak. “Currently, there are 36 sheds at Sost, which can accommodate cargo of 36 vehicles’ containers at a time.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.
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