NA to start debate on budget as PPP, PML-N resolve to block approval

Updated June 17, 2019

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Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari exchanges pleasantries with Maryam Nawaz upon arrival at Jati Umra on Sunday. — Aun Jafri / White Star
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari exchanges pleasantries with Maryam Nawaz upon arrival at Jati Umra on Sunday. — Aun Jafri / White Star

With the new financial year beginning after two weeks, the National Assembly is expected to start a general debate on the federal budget, presented by the government on June 11, today.

As per the parliamentary tradition, the opposition leader starts a general discussion on the federal budget every year. During Friday's session, however, due to ruckus by the treasury members belonging to the PTI and demands by the JUI-F to speak first, Leader of the Opposition and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif was unable to make a speech.

To deal with possible interruptions by the treasury members during the budget debate, the PML-N president has convened a meeting of party legislators today to devise a strategy for the budget session.

On Sunday, leaders of two major opposition parties — Maryam Nawaz of PML-N and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari of PPP — set their first target ahead of the launch of a formal anti-government campaign: blocking the passage of the federal budget. Bilawal termed the budget a “suggestion for economic suicide”.

The decisions were taken when scions of the Sharif and Bhutto-Zardari families along with their aides met for the second time in a month at Jati Umra residence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The two leaders had earlier met at an Iftar-dinner hosted by the PPP chairman in Islamabad last month.

Bilawal, while speaking to the media, said it was decided at the meeting to assemble all parties at one platform for what he said checking the storm of inflation. He said the opposition won’t let the “anti-masses” budget to be passed and would work to make the “puppet” government accountable to the people.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan termed the 'Fathers’ Day meeting' between the two young leader a bid to conceal “corruption” of their fathers.

Speaking at a news conference at the National Press Club on Sunday, she said: “Today, both [Bilawal and Maryam] exchanged tips on how to protect the ‘illegitimate’ assets of their fathers.”

She said the government presented the budget to provide ease to the people and make the country stand on its own feet, but the opposition was creating hurdles in the way of its smooth passage. “We will manage to pass the budget in parliament with the support of our [ruling PTI’s] allies.”