The debate in the National Assembly on price hike and basic problems being faced by people turned into personal remarks against each other’s leaderships on Tuesday.
During an exchange of harsh remarks, parliamentarians from both sides including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed and PPP parliamentarian Abdul Qadar Patel passed indecent remarks against each other and their leaderships while deviating from the main issue.
Khwaja Asif, who initiated the debate, had already joined the party when he said the lady who is interfering in his speech is suffering from ‘verbal diarrhea’. As the debate kicked off, PML-N parliamentary leader Khwaja Asif said the PML-N would not become part of any conspiracy or any deal to topple the government. Rather it would topple under its own burden while Bilawal asked the government to quit or provide relief to people.
Khwaja Asif regretted that the residence of Ishaq Dar has been converted into a shelter home whereas the government itself is providing shelter to the mafia of flour and sugar. He pointed out that the FIA presented a report to the government on sugar crisis which named those who have been financial backers and patrons of the government or in other words are the architects of the incumbent rulers. “The names of those are also being taken who brought this government to power,” he said, adding that he would not name those people because they are not present in the house.
The PML-N leader said: “We want that constitutional requirements are met to oust the government.” He said they would wait till the government departs under the burden of corruption and price hike. The opposition has done nothing wrong with the government to weaken it. Rather the government people are enemies of themselves. He said PTI parliamentarians while staging a sit-in in 2014 including Imran Khan received their salaries but did not donate a single penny to flood-affected people. The time has arrived where the masses should help those patrons and financial backers of the government in the current state of affairs. “As I am speaking here, I have been told that the price of sugar is touching Rs 90 per kilogram,” he said.
Talking about the economic performance of the government, he said in the last 18 months, the size of economy has reduced from 230 billion dollars to 189 billion dollars and bank default increased from 654 billion dollars to 774 billion dollars. He pointed out that Pakistan would have to pay 15% interest on hot money of 2.2 billion dollars to 2.5 billion dollars whereas the borrowing rate around the world is not more than 4%, questioning who is earning from the bills of the State Bank of Pakistan. He said the stock market suffered a loss of Rs143 billion in a day while since last month, the stock market has fallen down by Rs690 billion. The PML-N leader said the trend on social media reflects that the focus of public opinion is on price hike and people were cursing themselves for voting PTI to power.
Coming harsh on Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bilawal said he should accept that he was selected, incompetent and not capable of running the affairs of the country. He accused the government of compromising on “economic independence” in front of the IMF, saying that he remembered how PM Imran used to say in the past that corruption caused inflation in the country. “The prime minister should tell us about the corruption taking place in the country,” he said. “Or he should accept what we say.”
Without naming a senior officer of the establishment, the PPP chairman said he would not name the person who helped him to come to power. Speaker Asad Qaiser, however, expunged the remarks uttered by the PPP top leader. Bilawal also accused Imran and his government of sabotaging the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), saying that it was a matter of shame that the government is going to change title of the programme. “This shows how a man Imran Khan is,” he said.
As the speaker asked the PPP leader not to use indecent remarks for the prime minister, Bilawal said it was not the job of the chair to defend the premier. He said it was Imran Khan who before general elections said that he would prefer to commit suicide to getting loans once he comes into power. “I will not ask him to commit suicide but he should provide relief to the masses or quit the government,” he said, adding that the PTI government had sunk the economy while poverty, price hike and unemployment have increased manifold. “This is not a political statement, rather it were the facts being told by the institutions like FBR, State Bank and Federal Bureau of Statistics.”
Giving some figures, he said since January 2019, the inflation rate increased from 6.2% to 14.5%, food inflation rose from 1.6% to 24% while prices of perishable items increased by 78%. “I am surprised how the elected members face people in their constituencies,” he said. “People are asking whether they should arrange bread for their children and or pay utility bills,” he said.
Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, while reacting to criticism, said Prime Minister Imran Khan is not an accidental chairman of a party like Bilawal who progressed through Parchi and a fake will of his mother. “Look at the person like Bilawal Bhutto, the son of Zardari, who is criticising Imran Khan,” he said, asking the PPP chairman to at least take care of his constituency in Larkana where stray dogs are biting people. He said his party would go after the dogs of Larkana and beat them one by one. He said the PTI leadership and he himself came to the parliament through hard work and were not brought up with ill-gotten money. “I will respond to Zardari’s in the same language as he deserves,” he said adding if put to accountability, Bilawal would have to return his fees deposited in the Oxford University. Feeling absence of the PPP chairman in the house, he said they were hoping that he would listen to their speeches but he had escaped. He pointed out that Khwaja Asif was not true in saying that they received salaries during the 2014 sit-in and did not donate anything to flood-affected people.
Addressing PPP members who were hooting at him, Murad said they are the same who used to be the slaves of Zardari and now are slaves of his son. PPP parliamentarian Abdul Qadar Patel, who spoke next, passed indecent remarks and said everybody knows what kind of hard work Murad Saeed did to reach this stage. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar said the government has been enduring what resulted from the flawed policies of the previous governments of PML-N and PPP. He said the inquiry report into the wheat and sugar crisis will be made public, adding that the prices of sugar and wheat have started decreasing. He said the gas and electricity crisis is the fallout of the past government’s projects. He said the country was heading towards default when the PTI came into power. Foreign exchange reserves had decreased to 9 billion dollars and the local currency was under pressure. He said the PML-N government cleared Rs400 circular debt after getting loans which the incumbent PTI regime is still paying. “We plan to bring daily circular debt to zero,” he said and added no government makes tough decisions out of happiness but under compulsion.