Public disbelief as NA descends into rumpus

Lawmakers from both sides hurl budget books, use foul language at each other


Rizwan Shehzad   June 16, 2021
PHOTO: APP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Lawmakers stooped too low on Tuesday as they used foul language and threw budget books at the opponents; creating scenes of rumpus in the National Assembly on Tuesday that made the lower house of parliament look like a fish market.

It was second consecutive day when the treasury benches tried to muzzle the voice of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who was to deliver his speech on the federal budget. The rumpus left at least one lawmaker and several sergeants at arms injured.

Right from outset of the session, treasury members gathered around the opposition leader’s desk, blowing whistles; using foul language against the opposition. They also used budget books as weapons despite continual intervention from a helpless speaker.

However, surprising it may sound, the decision to give the opposition a tough time was taken during the meeting of the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, as confirmed by the Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in the post-cabinet meeting press briefing.

“There will be tit for tat,” Chaudhry told the briefing, held minutes before the NA session. He added that the cabinet discussed the matter and decided that the opposition would only be allowed to speak in the house if they agreed to listen to what the government benches had to say.

In the assembly, when Shehbaz resumed his speech, Chaudhry along with other treasury members began the commotion. The house descended into further chaos when PML-N lawmaker Ali Gohar Baloch chanted slogans, using derogatory words for the ruling party.

Read more: Ruckus in Sindh Assembly over water scarcity

Though a few National Assembly members from the PPP stood by the side of PML-N President and Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, when he delivered his speech, senior party leadership, including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, sat silently in their chairs.

Within minutes, things got escalated, as packed and unpacked budget books were seen flying from both sides towards the other side, as the nation witnessed in disbelief the despicable scenes from the proceedings being streamed on TV channels and social media.

Videos circulating on social media, showed PTI’s Ali Nawaz Awan using abusive language; Murad Saeed standing on the desk and throwing budget books at the opposition; Shireen Mazari and Ali Amin Gandapur along with other MNAs shouting “Chor, Chor”.

PTI’s Faheem Khan, Jamil Ahmed Khan, Saifur Rehman, Abdul Shakoor Shad were the others ruling party lawmakers on the frontline of the confrontation with the opposition. Opposition’s Sheikh Rohail Asghar, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Chaudhary Khalid Javed were more active from their side.

The situation reached to the extent that speaker Asad Qaiser had to call sergeants at arms from the Senate. However, the throwing of budget books by both sides continued with same frequency and the same force. Resultantly, PTI’s Malika Bokhari and a couple of sergeants at arms were injured.

In his speech, Shehbaz said that the PTI government’s three-year fiscal deficit was higher than that of the PML-N’s three tenures. He questioned the veracity of the claims of growth amid fiscal deficit; increasing poverty and unemployment; sky-rocketing inflation; and load-shedding.

“Development and prosperity doesn’t come in the country by opening a few Langar Khanas,” Shehbaz said, adding that wealthy people do open Langar Khanas but the government brings development through the industry.

Shehbaz asked the ruling party to take the National Assembly into confidence over the government’s ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He also said that the government’s claims of eliminating corruption from Pakistan were hollow.

Shehbaz said that Pakistan was suffering from the worst kind of corruption and the poor were starving to death. “Where are the 10 million jobs and the billions of dollars that were supposed to be brought back to the country from abroad,” he added, taking a jibe at the prime minister.

Lambasting the budget, Shahbaz said that the government failed to provide relief to the masses. “A budget that cannot comfort anyone; that does not alleviate the poverty; that cannot provide free treatment is not a budget but a fraud, deception and a mirage,” he said.

Shehbaz said that additional taxes of Rs1,200 billion have so far been imposed in the last three years, adding that power and CPEC projects were implemented in record time during the PML-N tenure, while millions of people were pushed below the poverty line during PTI rule.

While comparing PML-N’s performance with the PTI, he accused the ruling of becoming a cause for delaying the Chinese president’s visit as 2014 sit-in was going on at D-Chowk at that time. He revealed that several powerful people conveyed to the PTI back then to empty D-Chowk for three days but it didn’t happen and Chinese president’s visit was postponed.

Shehbaz predicted that the inflation would increase as the incumbent government was planning to take additional loans of Rs3,420 billion. He regretted that the prime minister’s chair remained empty during most of the important assembly sessions.

He questioned the government accusations against the PML-N for setting up additional power houses, while the country at present faced the worst load-shedding. He reminded the house that the people stood in queues for obtaining one-kilogramme pack of sugar during Ramazan.

The speaker later adjourned the session for Wednesday (today). Later on, he tweeted that investigation would be conducted into the matter and those using inappropriate language would not be allowed to enter into the House.

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