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Imran again becomes ‘punching bag’ in NA during budget debate

Imran again becomes ‘punching bag’ in NA during budget debate

ISLAMABAD: Taking full advantage of the non-serious atmosphere and the absence of a meaningful opposition, the lawmakers on Tuesday continued to deliver one-sided and lengthy political speeches during the budget debate in the National Assembly with almost every speaker blaming the previous PTI government and former prime minister Imran Khan for the prevailing economic and political mess in the country.

Before start of the formal debate on the budget, independent MNA from the country’s erstwhile tribal areas Mohsin Dawar while speaking on a point of order drew the attention of the house towards the target killing of four activists of the Youth of Waziristan, a social organisation, in North Waziristan on June 19 and warned that terrorists were once again regrouping in the area.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also attended the sitting for a brief time only to commit a blunder. The prime minister had entered the house at a time when a PTI dissident Ahmed Hussain Deharr from Multan was lambasting PTI chairman Imran Khan. He said he had handed over the files containing details of corruption to Mr Khan for five times but he remained unmoved.

At the outset of the sitting, while expressing his grave concerns over the target killing incident in North Waziristan, MNA Dawar said all those martyred in the attack were young educated people who had been working for the restoration of peace in the militancy-hit area and were demanding setting up of universities, instead of check-posts, in the region.

Dawar concerned over rise in terrorism in former tribal areas; PM briefly attends sitting

The only fault of these young men, he said, was they used to advocate peace and condemn terrorism.

“I have been raising this issue since becoming the MNA. Terrorism has not ended in there even after [launching of military operation] Zarb-i-Azb. Instead, they [terrorists] are once again regrouping and getting stronger,” said the MNA, adding that all this was happening despite the presence of “one division of the army.”

Mr Dawar complained and alleged that the national media, particularly the TV news channels, had blacked out such incidents. He said the TV channels ran tickers even if someone’s cat went missing or if a donkey-cart had an accident, but “Pakistan’s media is silent on such a big incident and this silence itself defines the root cause of such incidents”.

The MNA also regretted the silence of the mainstream parties over the incidents. Then, he said, bypassing the parliament talks were being held with those who were killing the people and carrying out genocide. The parliament, he said, had no idea at all as to what talks were being held with “our murderers”.

“Keep my words recorded whether I am here or not,” he said, adding: “The state will not be able to tolerate the [outcome of the] experiment which is being done now.”

“There is a full division of army and a large police force, then how it is possible that these [terrorists] roam there freely,” said Mr Dawar, prompting Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to interrupt, saying that he wanted to give an observation.

Mr Ashraf said the whole country had “wounds of terrorism” and those who had sacrificed their lives due to terrorism were brave people. He also lauded the “brave” armed forces and police for offering sacrifices fighting terrorism.

The speaker then directed Parlia­men­t­ary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abba­­si to seek report from the government over the incident and satisfy Mr Dawar.

The issue had also been raised by Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed and PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani in the Senate on Monday. The PPP senator had demanded of the government to take the Senate into confidence on the talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Budget debate

Taking part in the lackluster budget debate, the lawmakers made Imran Khan a punching bag as one after the other, the members in their speeches blasted the economic policies of the PTI government and termed the present price-hike a result of the agreement signed by the previous rulers with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The most hard-hitting speeches against Mr Khan, however, were delivered by the PTI dissidents, including Ahmed Hussain Deharr, Rana Qasim Noon, Javaria Zafar Aheer and Nuzhat Pathan.

Minister Javed Latif said the public had complete confidence in the policies of the present “national government” having representation of all the four provinces.

The National Assembly will meet again on Wednesday (today) at 11am.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022

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