ISLAMABAD: The treasury and opposition benches came to blows on Wednesday after Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan referred to former president Asif Ali Zardari as “Mr 10 per cent”.
In a session debating the country’s economic situation, Khan took the floor to respond to Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Naveed Qamar’s criticism of the incumbent government’s economic policies.
Khan had pointed out that Rs15 trillion in debts were inherited by the incumbent government and blamed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) tenures for the increase.
In his speech, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA referred to the PPP co-chairman as “Mr 10 per cent”, garnering an angry response from the opposition benches. The PPP lawmakers crowded around Khan’s seat, tore up the agenda document and began sloganeering against the Imran Khan-led government.
As the decorum of the House deteriorated, Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri adjourned the session till Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh defended the ‘tough’ economic steps taken by the Centre.
Read his statement here.
Responding to Sheikh’s comments, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi underscored that the financial advisor had avoided addressing main concerns i.e. wheat and sugar crisis. He urged for the crisis to be probed by a parliamentary committee.
The senior PML-N leader said the government could not defend the escalating prices of flour and sugar in the country and quipped whether the lawmakers should quote Moody’s report, as stated by the finance advisor in his speech, to the constituents when they question inflation.
Criticising current economic measures, the former premier warned that the country’s debt would increase multifold by the time the ruling party completes its term.
This entire government is filled with experts who are best at fields other than their own, he quipped.
“Human rights minister wants to do the work of the foreign ministry while the foreign ministry is interested in running economic affairs.”
Taking a dig at Sheikh and the ruling party, Abbasi said even those who have been part of past governments are unable to run the country.
“The Ministry of Climate Change banned plastic bags,” he acknowledged. “But we are still waiting for Fawad Chaudhry to take us to the moon.”
“George Orwell’s The Animal Farm represents the reality of the country at the moment,” he said and recommended the parliamentarians read it. “I am ready to donate 200 books to distribute in the Parliament.”
Accusing the federal government of compromising citizens’ financial rights, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the PTI is incapable of running economy and the country.
Bilawal urged treasury bench to focus on a common man’s plight. “Balancing current account deficit will not feed a poor man,” he added.
Emphasising that democracy was under threat, Bilawal stressed that the PPP would not accept any other system even if the incumbent government falters.
The PPP chairman also criticised PTI government’s negotiating skills with lending bodies and lamenting that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement was not presented before the Parliament. “No government accumulated as much debt in the first 15 months as Imran’s administration,” he said.
Rejecting the IMF bailout, Bilawal asked the government to renegotiate the deal. He critiqued government’s move to present a mini-budget. “The masses are looking for relief,” he added.
Bilawal said the PPP government had negotiated a deal on its own terms with the IMF during their tenure. “We did not compromise on the common man’s financial rights.”
He said the country has never before seen such a rapid increase in inflation. “Our constituents question us over the rising prices. People are committing suicides.”
Stressing on a MP’s right to question, Bilawal said the treasury benches only responded in “abuses”.