The government drew flak from an otherwise divided opposition in the National Assembly on Monday as lawmakers protested against unannounced power cuts across the country amid the searing heat.
The joint opposition staged a walkout from the proceedings in the legislative house, blaming the government for its failure to control load-shedding during the fasting month.
More than 350 people have been confirmed dead in several government-run hospitals of Karachi alone in the past three days owing to the sweltering weather. Hours-long power outages in Ramazan have added to the misery of people.
Read: PM orders emergency measures as death toll exceeds 425
In the lower house of parliament, the protest started when Shazia Marri of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took up the matter of unscheduled load-shedding.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) lawmakers were already carrying placards inscribed with “shame on the government”.
Aftab Khan Sherpao, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and MQM leaders also joined the protest and took the government to task before staging the walkout.
Taking advantage of the absence of opposition members, the government approved 49 demands worth Rs272.3 billion to meet the expenditures of various ministries and departments during the next fiscal year.
The demands were put forward by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The opposition had presented more than 1,515 cut motions on the demands, but these could not be taken up after their walkout. The house approved by a majority vote the expense demands and rejected all the cut motions.
Read: Generating finances: National Assembly passes GIDC Bill 2014
Of the 49 demands for expenditure, 22 related to the cabinet division, 11 to the interior ministry and four demands each of the communication, foreign affairs and petroleum and natural resources ministries.
The finance minister presented demands worth Rs110.53 billion of the cabinet and establishment divisions. The house also approved the demand of Rs38.91 billion to meet the expenditures of the cabinet division and another Rs290 million to meet the expenditures for emergency, relief and repatriation.
The National Assembly approved the demand for Rs38.31 billion by the Atomic Energy Commission, Rs87 million for stationery items and printing, Rs7.64 billion for the communication division, Rs15.317 billion for Pakistan Post Office and Rs14.91 billion for the foreign affairs.
The interior ministry’s demand for Rs88.25 billion, including Rs6.737 billion for Islamabad, Rs1.416 billion for passport organisation, Rs39.415 billion for civil armed forces, Rs7.606 billion for Frontier Constabulary, Rs1.674 billion for Pakistan Coast Guards, Rs16.968 billion for Pakistan Rangers and Rs2.22 billion for Narcotics Control, was also approved by the government.
Zardari writes to PM
Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has written a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, urging him to personally take up the problem of load-shedding in Sindh.
The former president said that many areas of Sindh were facing 20 hours of load-shedding in the unusually hot summer this year. He said he would be obliged if the premier took notice of the problem and solved it.
Read: Political huddle: Zardari starts playing his cards again
He cautioned that if the crisis was not resolved, the situation in the province during Ramazan and the coming months would become worse.
Zardari wrote that he had mentioned the problem during a meeting with the premier on May 13 and the Sindh power and finance minister had also took up the issue with the federal water and power minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.
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