Bilawal urges NA speaker to issue production orders for Dawar, Wazir ahead of finance bill vote

Updated June 24, 2019

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PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks in a sitting of National Assembly's budget session. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks in a sitting of National Assembly's budget session. — DawnNewsTV

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday urged the National Assembly speaker to issue production orders for MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir so that all opposition members are able to vote on the finance bill currently under debate in the House.

"Mr Speaker I hope that by tomorrow... when the opposition needs to have its full numbers, you will [issue the production orders] for the MNAs of North and South Waziristan. Otherwise, accusations will be made that this (non-issuance of production orders) is nothing short of rigging the budget," he said.

Dawar and Wazir were arrested after the May 26 Kharqamar checkpost incident in North Waziristan. Bilawal and other opposition members have repeatedly asked the speaker to issue the production orders of arrested MNAs so they can participate in the ongoing session. The production orders for PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique were issued last week but Dawar and Wazir are still unable to attend the ongoing parliament session.

Speaker Asad Qaiser, during today's sitting, said that he had asked the law ministry for advice. Bilawal responded that the speaker did not require the law ministry's opinion and can issue production orders of any member he wishes. Qaiser assured Bilawal that he will "personally look into this matter".

Bilawal also criticised the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to probe the rise in debts over the last 10 years and said: "After undermining our political, human and democratic rights, they (government) now want to undermine the sovereignty of this very parliament.

"I want to ask, what is this ridiculously unconstitutional debt commission and how is it possible that the collective wisdom of this House can be questioned by the likes of NAB (National Accountability Bureau), ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) or Military Intelligence?"

"Those institutions are answerable to this House. This House is not answerable to any institution."

The PPP chairman said that if the government wished to "review" the decisions of the parliament, the "appropriate forum [to do so] would be your own finance committee or the Public Accounts Committee, or we can form a whole new committee".

"Budgetary decisions, including debt, are the sole domain of the National Assembly. We will not subject ourselves before any institution, let alone some debt commission. This is absolutely undemocratic and unconstitutional," he said.

Bilawal heaped criticism on the proposed budget as well, saying that he cannot see "people being economically murdered". He said that the government "will have to give economic rights otherwise you will have to go home".

He regretted that no funds were allocated to the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in the budget and warned that his party will not let the government "wind up an internationally accredited BISP".

Bilawal accused the government of making a "censored Pakistan", lamenting that the parliament was expunging words from speeches.

"Anyone who thinks that censorship will make the environment [of the country] better, I want to explain to them that you are only pouring oil on fire. This suppressed frustration will find an outlet somewhere and it will only have negative consequences," he warned.

'Budget outcome of govt's third-class performance'

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks in the National Assembly on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks in the National Assembly on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb on Monday launched a blistering verbal attack against Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying the budget presented earlier this month was an outcome of the "third-class performance" of his government.

Addressing the budget session in the National Assembly, the PML-N leader said that the budget for FY2019-20 was a recipe for "crushing the salaried class of Pakistan, destroying the small investor and snatching the morsel out of the common man's mouth".

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri interrupted Aurangzeb when she alleged that the government had come into power after being "selected". He reminded her that he had advised against using the term on Sunday as well because "every member has come to the parliament after being elected".

Aurangzeb maintained that she had not used the word for the prime minister and later chose to refer to the incumbent government as "handpicked" instead of selected.

Referring to the premier as the "TV star prime minister", she said Prime Minister Imran after coming into power had first addressed the nation through television, instead of on the parliament's floor. She recalled that the prime minister addressed the nation twice in the last 10 days.

"In the first address, he was standing atop the container and targeted the opposition; in the second address, he was still on the container and targeted this country's investors and traders," she alleged.

The PML-N spokesperson further alleged that the prime minister in his first address had threatened the opposition with "NAB 2" and in the second he "took out his frustration over his failed amnesty [scheme] before the investors".

"What bigger proof could there be of an incompetent, ineligible, experienced and failed government that the country's prime minister has resorted to issuing threats?" Aurangzeb asked.

She alleged that Prime Minister Imran had been boasting about building the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and leading the Pakistan to World Cup victory in 1992, saying: "I want to make it clear that the 1992 World Cup was a collective success of the Pakistan cricket team and Shaukat Khanum too was constructed due to Pakistani national spirit."

Aurangzeb recalled that the prime minister had, before assuming office, promised the nation that he would not take the country to the International Monetary Fund, would turn the economy around, turn the governor house into a museum and sell assets of Prime Minister House to benefit the treasury.

"The [person] who sold these dreams has today merely become the driver of Uber company and demands five stars on every ride," she said, apparently referring to Prime Minister Imran's move to personally drive several foreign dignitaries who have recently visited Pakistan.

'Freedom of expression'

PPP MNA Nafisa Shah during her speech sought an explanation from the deputy speaker as to whether he had barred the use of the term "selected" for the prime minister.

"If it is a ruling then you will have to bar the use of words 'thieves' and 'robbers' as well," she said, addressing Suri. "There must be freedom of expression in the assembly."

In response, the deputy speaker said he had requested the members to "let this beautiful democracy remain as it is because they all have been elected due to democracy".