ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has asked the government to take the parliament into confidence over the regional security situation likely to emerge after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
The demand was made by PPP information secretary and former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi and Senator Rubina Khalid at a news conference here on Sunday, a day before start of the budget session of the lower house of the parliament.
In an apparent reference to some of the recent high-level security meetings, Mr Kundi said the parliament should be taken into confidence about the situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces, saying that the PPP believed that there should be no closed-door meetings on the situation after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and that the parliament be taken into confidence on the issue.
On this occasion, Mr Kundi challenged Prime Minister Imran Khan to have a debate with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the parliament on the matters related to foreign affairs, economy and other issues. He also called for evaluation of the performance of the chief ministers of all provinces to see whose performance was better.
NA budget session begins today
It may be recalled that the other opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), from the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had already called for an “in-camera” joint sitting of the parliament for a briefing on the situation in Afghanistan.
During a news conference after presiding over the meeting of the PDM heads in Islamabad on May 29, PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said that defence and foreign ministry officials should brief the parliament on the progress of Doha Agreement, the priorities of the new US administration and the possible impact of the agreement on the region and Pakistan.
The Maulana had said there were rumours that Pakistan would provide air bases to the US and warned that such a step would have severe political implications for the country.
“Pakistan can face difficulties due to reaction of the resistance movement in Afghanistan,” Maulana Fazl said, adding that these issues were sensitive in nature and, therefore, there was a need for taking the parliament into confidence over it.
Mr Kundi also reiterated that the opposition parties would make every effort to block the passage of the upcoming federal budget. He said all the PPP MNAs would be at the disposal of Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif regarding the budget and would jointly “reject” the budget.
Mr Kundi also asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of the “pressure” being exerted on the people to support the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir where elections are scheduled to be held later this year. He alleged that the government wanted to delay the elections in Kashmir.
Budget to be announced on 11th
The budget session of the National Assembly is starting on Monday (today), with opposition parties pulling their muscles to give a tough time to the government during the passage of the federal budget for the fiscal year 2021-22.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan had called on National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar on Friday and discussed the budget session strategy.
Mr Awan had stated that during the meeting budget schedule was finalised according to which the budget would be announced on June 11.
According to the schedule, there will be no sitting of the NA on June 12 and 13 due to weekly holidays and general discussion on the budget will start on June 14 that will continue till June 23. On June 24, the finance minister will wind up the budget discussion.
On June 25, discussion on appropriations in respect of charged expenditure 2021-22 will be held. On the same day discussion and voting on demands for grants in respect of voted expenditure 2021-22 will take place followed by cut motions. The discussion will continue on June 28.
On June 29, the finance bill is likely to be passed. On June 30, general discussion on supplementary demands for grants and appropriations 2020-21, voting on supplementary grants for demands, discussion on excess demands, charged expenditure of excess appropriations, voting on excess demands for grants, laying of schedule of authorised expenditure 2021-22, laying of supplementary schedule of authorised expenditure 2021-22 and laying of excess schedules of authorised expenditure will be held.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2021