With tempers already flaring in the country’s political arena, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmakers hit out at the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) during the National Assembly session on Thursday.
PPP MNA Nafisa Shah demanded a judicial commission for a comprehensive investigation into the black economy.
“Probe estate agents of Dubai before investigating into the alleged black money worth Rs230 billion in Sindh. They (the realtors) are directly associated with the lawmakers sitting in this house.” Nafisa asked the government why it wasn’t investigating into “black money being used by banned outfits in Punjab”.
“Why is the PPP alone being associated with corruption in Sindh? There is black money in Punjab, some separatists and RAW agents in Balochistan, and some terrorists and Afghan agents in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”
She said the next fiscal year’s budget was meaningless because “for the past seven years, Pakistan has been at a standstill and its economy is trapped in a low-growth cycle”.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Sanjay Perwani said the next budget was irrelevant to the country’s non-Muslims. “We (the minorities) have been omitted from it.”
PML-N MNA Iftikhar Ahmad Cheema warned the government of a “bloody revolution” if farmers were neglected in the next budget. He also urged the government to sign an agreement with Iran for rice export.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Imran Khattak also criticised the government for failing to achieve most of the targets set for the current financial year. “The mass transit system has failed as well.” However, PML-N MNA Malik Shakir Bashir Awan lauded the lawmakers for their “productive” recommendations, particularly for improving the agricultural system. “I request the government to waive off loans to farmers facing an environmental crisis in Punjab.”
Referring to criticism on PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s recent remarks against the security establishment, Nafisa said her party had always stood by elected governments whether they were threatened by a dictatorial regime or a “container movement”.
“The [PML-N] tigers were about to head to the caves as [the PTI’s] ‘container revolution’ seemed inevitable. But the PPP stood by the government for the sake of democracy.”
To support his colleague’s point, PPP MNA Ayaz Soomro said that all Zardari had meant to say was that all state institutions must work within their parameters.
Reham’s helicopter use
The opposition staged a walkout from the house after PML-N MNA Tallal Chaudhary took a jab at PTI chief Imran Khan’s wife Reham Khan.
“Reham uses helicopters like auto rickshaws,” Chaudhary said on the floor of the assembly, instantly causing uproar in the house.
Further irking PTI leaders, Chaudhary asked NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to leave the chair if he thought he was “party in the NA-122 issue”, which provoked the speaker to leave the chair, with Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi presiding over the session.
Regarding reports that the PPP wishes to bring party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in parliament in place of Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah, Chaudhary said: “The PML-N will welcome the PPP chairman. But we shall feel sorry for the opposition leader.”
When the PTI lawmakers started walking out, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai urged the house not to take up personal issues on the floor. Later, opposition parties returned to the house after Chaudhary apologised.
While the Jamaat-e-Islami, PTI and PPP staged a walkout over the PML-N MNAs’ remarks, the MQM also left the house to protest Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s statements.
Asif had said “Mohajirs are only those who had migrated from places such as Jalandhar and Ludhiana, while the rest are ‘fake Mohajirs’.”
PkMAP MNA Mahmood Khan Achakzai wanted to know why the military had not launched an investigation when it was discovered that a serving brigadier had informed the US on the whereabouts of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden (OBL).
He also informed the house that there was serious resentment among the Afghans over an agreement signed between Pakistan’s top spy agency and the Afghan intelligence agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2015.