ISLAMABAD: Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on Wednesday directed Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Federal Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar to ensure their presence in the National Assembly during the ongoing general debate on the federal budget.
Interestingly, the absence of the two key members of the government’s economic team from the house was pointed out by none other than by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan.
The minister took the floor on a point of order during the budget debate and said whether someone liked it or not, but as a parliamentary affairs minister it was his job to ensure that the parliament played its due role through useful discussion.
“Dr Hafeez Shaikh and Hammad Azhar Sahib should come to the (assembly) hall and take notes,” he said, asking them to take the parliamentary proceedings seriously.
He said that although senior officials of the finance ministry were present in the gallery and taking notes, the two ministers should also be in the house to listen to proposals being given by members in their speeches.
The minister also asked the chair to issue a ruling in this regard.
The deputy speaker issued the directives that both Dr Shaikh and Mr Azhar should be asked to attend the sitting and take notes about the members’ proposals. The proceedings continued for nearly three hours after the ruling from the chair, but the two cabinet members did not turn up.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly continued general debate on the federal budget for the third consecutive day and despite an agreement to run the proceedings only for three hours daily due to Covid-19 situation, the session lasted nearly seven hours.
Prominent among those who took part in the debate were Rana Sanaullah Khan and Ayesha Ghaus Pasha of PML-N, Maulana Asad Mehmood of the JUI-F, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of BNP-M, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul and Parliamentary Secretary for Industries and Production Aliya Hamza.
Criticising the budget, Rana Sanaullah said instead of going to the IMF, the government had brought the IMF to Pakistan. He alleged that the government was utilising all its energies in victimising opponents. He also asked why no action had been taken against those who had been held responsible for the recent sugar crisis in the country.
Maulana Asad Mehmood of JUI-F warned the government against taking any action in seminaries in the name of reforms.
Referring to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s proposal to form a special committee on Kashmir and other foreign policy matters, he declared that the JUI-F would not become part of any committee that would be headed by those who had sold out the Kashmir issue.
Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020