ISLAMABAD, June 12: The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) broke its boycott of the budget debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday, but the joy it gave the treasury benches proved short-lived.
Following a pause and apparent peace, the party staged another noisy protest in the house to interrupt the debate just as things heated up in the nearby Supreme Court over an alleged financial scam surrounding a son of the chief justice.
After boycotting the general debate on the budget for fiscal 2012-13 for six days, a PML-N lawmaker and former army general, Abdul Qadir Baloch, made a long speech calling for a national dialogue on how to end insurgency in Balochistan.
It seemed the discussion would continue smoothly after the members of the largest opposition party, which is agitating in a campaign against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, walked out of the house quietly at the end of their member’s speech.
But they returned to the house towards the fag-end of the proceedings to stage a noisy protest just as television channels were broadcasting some sensational portions of a statement made before a two-judge Supreme Court bench by a local property tycoon, Malik Riaz Hussain, about the alleged wrongdoings of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s son, Arsalan Iftikhar.
It was unclear whether it was coincidental or the PML-N uproar was in any way provoked by the court proceedings, which, however, were not discussed by any of seven lawmakers who spoke in the debate before the house was adjourned until 5pm on Wednesday.The main speaker of the day from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, Public Accounts Committee chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal, called upon the opposition to give a tough time to the government rather than boycotting parliamentary proceedings or returning to the bitter confrontations of the 1990s.
Abdul Qadir Baloch, whom is a former Balochistan governor, said all top political leaders including Prime Minister Gilani, PML-N president Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan should put their heads together, adding that he was sure dialogue would progress if his province was assured a complete control over its resources.
While the PML-N members interrupted speeches of PPP’s former minister Mumtaz Alam Gilani and Awami National Party member Himayatullah Mayar, the government-allied Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a walkout to protest against the latest violence in Karachi earlier in the day in which one party lawmaker, Syed Asif Hasnain, said a brother of a provincial assembly member of the party had been killed and another wounded.