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PTI lawmakers in NA blast own govts at Centre, Punjab

PTI lawmakers in NA blast own govts at Centre, Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) faced embarrassment in the National Assembly on Tuesday when a number of its lawmakers complained about insufficient allocations for agriculture and various projects in the federal budget, shortage of petrol and “absence” of ministers from the house.

They also blasted the Punjab government on various issues.

Taking part in the general debate on the federal budget for the seventh day, PTI lawmakers Sardar Riaz Mehmood Mazari from Rajanpur and Junaid Akbar from Malakand lashed out at the Punjab government over what they called its failure to maintain law and order in the southern part of the province and its decision to ban inter-provincial movement of wheat.

Mr Mazari slammed the federal government for not allocating funds for the proposed South Punjab province in the budget.

“We were hopeful of bringing about a change, but disappointment is rife. Neither are people getting jobs nor is any development taking place,” Mr Mazari said.

The PTI legislator recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to work for betterment of backward areas, “but it has not happened”.

Speaker to take action against MNAs over ‘indecent’ remarks

Highlighting the “poor law and order situation” in Rajanpur, Mr Mazari said he had raised the issue even with the prime minister, but “I am unable to understand as to why there has been no action”.

He claimed that a group of 20 to 25 people had made the lives of people in the Seraiki belt miserable through their illegal activities, which include extortions of farmers.

About two weeks ago, he recalled, criminals had kidnapped some policemen and released them only after police released their accomplices. “Police are reluctant to take action as they are not getting any support from the government.”

He said five IGs (inspectors general) had already been changed in the province, but things had not improved.

Mr Mazari said it seemed that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was “powerless” as “he is a gentleman and no one listens to him”. He said one of a senior local member of the PTI had recently quit the party due to the prevailing law and order situation in the area as the police failed to even recover his 60 stolen buffaloes.

“We are crying over (India-Occupied) Kashmir whereas the situation in the area is worse than Kashmir. The honour of the people is not safe,” he said, demanding that an operation be launched against the criminals.

“What are our (intelligence) agencies doing?” he asked.

“If the police can’t do the operation, then send the Rangers or the Army to clear the area,” he went on saying.

The angry lawmaker regretted that the PTI had also failed to fulfil its promise of eliminating corruption from the country, alleging that people had acquired jobs in Railways after paying huge amounts.

Another PTI MNA Junaid Akbar lashed out at the Punjab government for its decision to ban the inter-provincial movement of wheat causing shortage in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“I condemn the Punjab government for this ban,” the MNA said, adding that such steps caused hatred among provinces.

When Speaker Asad Qaiser, who also belongs to KP, informed the MNA that the decision had been made to lift the ban, Mr Akbar said even then action should be taken against those who had earlier made the “illegal and unconstitutional decision” which created discord among the provinces.

Mr Akbar also expressed his concern over the shortage of petrol, saying the people were desperately moving from one place to another to find petrol.

On this, the speaker directed Minister for Petroleum Umer Ayub, who was not present in the house, to submit a report regarding the shortage of petroleum products in the country by Monday.

Another PTI lawmaker from Vehari Auarngzeb Khan Khichi protested over the absence of the ministers from the house during the budget debate. He said he wanted to point out lack of quorum, but was not doing so it in respect of the chair. He also expressed his concern over the increase in price of wheat, alleging that wheat was being forcefully purchased from the farmers at the rate of Rs1,450 and it was being sold in the marker for Rs1,700.

PTI MNA from Chiniot Ghulam Muhammad Lali complained about lack of health facilities in his constituency and said the Punjab chief minister had promised to build tehsil headquarters and district hospitals, but nothing had happened.

A couple of Muttehida Qaumi Movement (MQM) legislators from Karachi in their speeches mostly castigated the Sindh government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and also took the federal government to task over lesser allocations made for the projects for the megacity and the attitude of the K-Electric with the consumers.

Speaker Asad Qaiser announced that he had decided to take action against the lawmakers, including Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP, for using “unparliamentary, indecent and defamatory” language during their speeches.

Mr Qaiser said that it had come into his notice that during Monday’s proceedings Abdul Qadir Patel had used unparliamentary language which harmed the dignity and respect of the Parliament. As a custodian of the House, he said, it was his obligation to take action against the lawmaker as per rules of the assembly. He said that he would take the action after seeing the video clipping of the speech.

PPP’s Naveed Qamar and PML-N’s Khawaja Asif welcomed the speaker’s ruling, but demanded that Mr Patel should not be singled out and action must be taken against the treasury members also who had used such language and provoked the opposition.

The speaker said that he was declaring it on oath that he would take action against the members irrespective of their party affiliations.

Later, at one point, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri switched PML-N MNA Waheed Alam’s mike off when he used derogatory language about Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The speaker presided over a meeting of the parliamentary leaders in which it was unanimously decided that the general discussion on the budget would be wound up on Thursday; grants for demands and cut motions would be discussed on Friday and Saturday, while the finance bill would be taken up on Sunday, followed by passage of the supplementary grants on Monday.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2020

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