PPP to boycott joint-opposition meeting

Decision was reached after PML-N gave walkover to PTI in crucial budget proceedings


Our Correspondent June 30, 2021
PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:

In a major development, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) announced on Wednesday that it would boycott the joint meeting of the opposition.

The decision was reached after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) gave walkover to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in crucial budget proceedings in the National Assembly.

In what seems to be yet another appearance of cracks within the opposition, PPP said the rationale behind boycotting the meeting was ‘lack of seriousness’ expressed by the PML-N.

Earlier, the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif had delivered a thundering speech on the assembly floor, claiming the opposition would work together and not allow the PTI government to pass the “anti-people budget” for the next fiscal year.

However, when the Finance Bill 2021-22 sailed through the assembly on June 29, Shehbaz Sharif was conspicuously absent from the session along with a majority of the PML-N lawmakers.

During the proceeding, the government flexed its strength and defeated the opposition when Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin moved a motion for taking up the bill with a majority of 172 against 138 votes.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, while calling the budget approval “unconstitutional and illegal”, said: “All the PPP members are present… I am responsible for my own party”.

He added that he will raise the issue of the absence of a number of opposition members with Shehbaz Sharif.

Bilawal said NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had robbed the members of their votes, adding that what had happened in the National Assembly on Tuesday had set a bad precedent.

The PPP chairman said the speaker verbally approved the bill and when he challenged a voice vote, the speaker violated the rules and deprived him of his right.

‘Budget an insult to people’

Addressing a press conference at the Zardari House Islamabad on Wednesday, Bilawal deplored budget as an ‘insult to the people.

Read NA clears budget with majority vote

The chairman regretted that the government, abetted by the ‘regrettable’ attitude of the speaker, deprived the opposition of its rights.

“The people want to hear what is happening in Lahore, Quetta, Karachi and Multan. You were supposed to give us a three-year record, but you are lecturing us instead,” Bilawal said, adding, “You are trying to fool the nation”.

Hitting out at the government policies, chairman PPP said that every step taken by the government was benefitting the rich, not the poor.

“Assembly employees are committing suicide. The people for the past three years have been hearing the same thing over and over again.”

“The public doesn't want to hear about the NRO and how bad it was before. You have given tax amnesty for these [rich] people. This budget serves as an NRO to them, there is relief for the rich and distress for the poor,” Bilawal added.

“The people must have confidence in the state and democracy. You are giving arrest powers in the name of FBR.”

Chairman PPP said that the PM should give to the nation an overview of what it could deliver in the past three years “and refrain from making lofty claims about what it will do next.

“Now the prime minister has no time, the people will hold him accountable. We will hold you accountable for all these wrongdoings. Instead of telling stories, your speech should tell us the solution to problems.”
The chairman went on to say that Asad Qaiser “is the worst speaker in the country's parliamentary history”.

Commenting on Shahbaz Sharif’s absence during the budget proceedings, Bilawal said the former could not be part of the session due to a death in his family.

However, he added, “It is hoped that JUI-F and PML-N will issue show cause notices to their member who were not in the house.”

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