ISLAMABAD, June 3: Although the general debate on the federal budget starting in the National Assembly on Monday evening promises to be noisier than usual — even stormy on occasion because of PML-N’s bitter opposition — it looks all for the good.
Sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) told Dawn that the party leadership had agreed to the viewpoint of the majority of its members that they should participate in the budget debate. However, the final decision would be taken at a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group to be held before start of the assembly session.
It has been learnt that the PML-N has also decided to break the parliamentary tradition of the opposition leader opening the general debate, following the refusal of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to do so. “There is a strong possibility that a senior party legislator will initiate the debate, instead of Chaudhry Nisar,” said a PML-N source privy to the debate in the party.
In the Senate, however, Opposition Leader Ishaq Dar will open the debate as per the parliamentary traditions, he added.
The sources said that during the meeting of the party’s parliamentary group held at the Parliament House before start of the finance minister’s budget speech in the National Assembly on Friday, a majority of the legislators were of the view that they should participate in the debate. They said that they should make the government work hard in getting the budget passed from the assembly, instead of providing it an open field.
A dominant view in the meeting was that they should expose the government’s alleged corruption and bad governance through their speeches in the house and the party should hold noisy protest only in the presence of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza has convened a meeting of the House Business Advisory Committee represented by all the parliamentary parties on Monday “to discuss the business to be transacted during the budget session”, says an announcement by the National Assembly Secretariat.