The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has decided that it will continue to protest against what it called the ‘government’s lack of vision’ during the entirety of the parliamentary debate on the federal budget for the fiscal year 2012.
“The PML-N will protest in the National Assembly every single day during the debate on budget,” said Khurram Dastgir, a PML-N member of the lower house of Parliament.
However, Dastgir was quick to point out that the main opposition party in Parliament would neither boycott the debate nor protest in a manner as disruptive as the loud demonstrations they engaged in on Friday, when Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh presented the budget to the National Assembly.
The PML-N plans on allowing Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to open the debate on the budget, while the rest of the part’s MNAs are likely to “raise objections and point out the government’s incompetence,” according to Dastgir. Every day, two or three speakers from the party would highlight issues which would be focal point of the protest, he added.
On June 3, when Shaikh presented the budget to the lower house, the PML-N launched a noisy protest that drowned out the minister’s speech and forced him to cut it short. However, the PML-N seemed to be alone in their protests as they were not joined by any other opposition parties. Even some party members, such as Ayaz Amir, did not participate in the protests.
The PML-N’s objections do not seem to stem from any differences on economic policy and instead are related primarily to national security issues. Dastgir said that the party was upset that its parliamentary leader, Nisar, was not consulted before the constitution of independent commission to probe the May 2 raid by US forces on Abbottabad that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, nor on the commission to investigate the terrorist attack on the Mehran naval base in Karachi.
“The government had neither consulted with the leader of the opposition on earlier count nor had done so afterwards,” said Dastgir, claiming that the government had not contacted the party after its rejection of the five-member commission.
Nevertheless, Dastgir said that the PML-N was in contact with other opposition members in a bid to jointly recommend amendments in the finance bill proposed by the government. A meeting between Chaudhry Nisar and other opposition leaders in Parliament will take place on Monday (today) to develop a future plan of action.
After President Asif ali Zardari successfully expanded the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) coalition to include the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q), the PML-N has been feeling isolated and desperately trying to cobble together an opposition coalition of its own, though it seems to be failing in wooing the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), particularly over the PML-N’s attempt to secure the Senate opposition leader’s position for itself.
“We are ready to cooperate with the PML-N,” said Maulana Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F. “However the way it has attempted to bring its opposition leader in the Senate is against parliamentary norms.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2011.
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