ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties in the National Assembly have rejected the federal budget 2019-20 as ‘anti-people’ and decided to lodge a protest against the ‘vengeful policies’ of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led federal government
The opposition groups with representation in the NA held a meeting at the Parliament House after the budget session. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif chaired the moot.
The participants questioned timing of the arrest of members of opposition parties – the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and the PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz – and said through the arrests the government wanted to divert attention away from the budget.
Speaking on the occasion, Shehbaz Sharif asked which institution other than the parliament should make decisions about the country. “Where the country is heading towards?” he said.
He said the opposition will not let the anti-people budget go unnoticed in the noise of so-called accountability. “The incompetent government has made life common people difficult. The development process has come to a halt; the investment is declining and the dollar rate is touching the skies.”
Shehbaz said the political opponents are being victimized but it is a good amen that all opposition parties are united against the anti-people budget and in the interest of Pakistan and its people.
“People have pinned their hopes on the opposition and the opposition has joined hands in the interest of people and not for personal interests,” he added. The PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the government wanted to hide “Tsunami of price hike” behind the so-called process of accountability.
“The basic issue is not the arrest of Nawaz Sharif or Zardari or any other opposition leader. The more important issue is in which direction the country is going,” he said.
The meeting later decided that the opposition will protest against the government at all the available forums. Members of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), an ally of the PTI government at the Centre also attended the meeting.
Maryam lambasts govt
The PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also criticised the ‘anti-people budget’ and said the government by raising prices of food and other commodities shifted the burden of its incompetence on the poor people, who are already living in misery due to the ineptitude of this government.
She termed the budget as an IMF budget and said the government is wounding the country every day. “This anti-people budget will reverse development of this country,” she wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.
She said not only business community but working class, labourers and daily wager must have remembered former premier Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday after hearing details of the budget.
Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Imran Khan, she said how would a person whose expenditures are borne by his rich friends even understand misery of poor people who were forced make ends meet in mere Rs15,000.
Bilawal’s media talk
Speaking to reporters, Bilawal said his party would try its best that the Federal Budget 2019-20 does not get passed by the National Assembly. He said the opposition resorted to protest during budget speech after realising that masses are being burdened with more taxes. Bilawal said the recent arrests of the elected representatives were made in a bid to divert attention from the ‘anti-people’ budget.
“Our first demand was issuance of production order for [PTM MNAs] Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir and [PPP co-chairman] Asif Ali Zardari and [PML-N leader] Khawaja Saad Rafiq, but the [NA] speaker did not issue production orders in clear violation of democratic norms and traditions,” he added.
The PPP chief said that the government hastily presented the budget, adding that the members of the opposition benches were not even given copies of the budget. “We still attended the budget speech and resorted to protest when we realised that people were being burdened with more taxes,” he explained
The PPP chairman also took to Twitter to mock Prime Minister Imran Khan over what he called the “PTIMF budget”. “History will record how Imran danced as our economy burns.”