ISLAMABAD, June 5: The Pakistan Muslim League-N kept its promise of hooting down Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani when he appeared in the National Assembly on Tuesday evening and completely disrupted the proceedings during the time he stayed in the house.
It looked a repeat of their budget day performance as some 50 PML-N legislators present in the house gathered at the podium between the speaker’s chair and the prime minister’s seat and raised full-throated anti-government slogans, making the speeches inaudible.
The prime minister, who had come with his adviser on interior, Abdul Rehman Malik, after presiding over a meeting of joint parliamentary groups of the ruling coalition, remained in the house for about 55 minutes – but only to hear slogans like “go Gilani go”, ‘Qaum Bhooki Maardi Hi People’s Party’ and “power thieves”.
At least 12 members of the Pakistan People’s Party made a wall around Mr Gilani to stop the protesting legislators from getting too close to him.
When Parliamentary leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Dr Farooq Sattar, was given the floor by Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, he refused to deliver his speech saying that he could not do so amidst the noisy protest.
Then the deputy speaker gave the floor to the Federal Minister for Textiles, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, and later to Chairperson of the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme Farzana Raja, but their speeches could not be heard by those sitting in the galleries due to the opposition’s noisy protest, led by the second tier of the party in the absence of Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
In her speech, Farzana Raja attempted to target the PML-N government in Punjab, but her remarks only aggravated the opposition’s protest.
The prime minister left the house after the deputy speaker announced a break for Maghrib prayers. The opposition members did not return to the house after the break, providing an opportunity to the treasury benches to run the proceedings smoothly.
Taking part in the debate, Dr Farooq Sattar proposed formation of an all-party parliamentary committee to develop consensus on the budget and to devise economic policy for the country.
He came down hard on the government’s economic managers, saying no relief had been provided to the masses in the budget.
He said because of the energy crisis, price hike and growing unemployment, people were getting fed up with democracy.
The MQM leader drew the attention of the house to the worsening law and order situation in Balochistan and asked the government to act before it was too late. He wondered what would happen if besides separatists, the nationalist parties of Balochistan also decided to boycott the next general election.
He warned that if the voter turnout was very low in Balochistan, it would be likened to a vote for parting of ways with Pakistan.
He stressed the need for corrective measures in the province before the elections.
Dr Sattar castigated the government for continued bloodshed in Karachi. He alleged that a ‘criminal mafia’ having strong links with some groups in northern parts of the country was active in the country’s economic hub.
He complained that no mega projects had been launched in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and other towns of Sindh during the past four years.
The MQM leader expressed his reservations over the Benazir Income Support Programme, saying that he was against the spirit of the scheme. Instead of providing meagre financial assistance to the poor, he suggested that small loans should be provided to women to take them towards self-reliance. He cited the Bangladesh model as example.