• PM says best possible budget prepared for common man
• Shehbaz says strategy to be evolved for no-trust move against govt

ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Friday disrupted the budget session by thumping desks and chanting slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan as Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin steadily unveiled the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) third budget.

Though Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has parted ways with the grand opposition alliance — Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — it joined hands with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to stage protests in the lower house during Shaukat Tarin’s speech — his first since joining the cabinet.

Prime Minister Khan, who reached the National Assembly five minutes before the session started, remained in the house throughout the budget speech that lasted almost two hours.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari entered the house together after holding a meeting with each other and presiding over their respective parliamentary committees.

The opposition legislators seemed prepared to give a tough time to the government during the budget presentation. Many were seen carrying placards inscribed with slogans which said, PTI ka mehngai budget (PTI’s inflated budget)and Mehngai budget na manzoor (High-cost budget unacceptable).

Throughout the speech, the opposition members kept banging their desks and raising slogans against the government and the prime minister. Some female PTI members went to the opposition’s side, snatched the placards and tore them.

When the finance minister completed his speech, Prime Minister Khan congratulated him for presenting the government’s third budget.

It seemed the prime minister wanted to leave the house after meeting Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin but some PTI leaders, including Communication Minister Murad Saeed, said something to him after which PM Khan returned to his seat and remained there till National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar adjourned the house for Monday evening.

Meanwhile, after their meeting, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif talked to mediapersons in the corridor of the Parliament House.

The two leaders rejected the budget and vowed to give a tough time to the government inside the Parliament.

The PPP chairman said he had decided to stand with the joint opposition on the issue of the passage of budget 2021-22.

“I have given votes of all my MNAs to Shehbaz Sharif and now he (Shehbaz) can use them as he liked,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.

Shehbaz Sharif, on the other hand, said the government had given inaccurate figures in the budget document, adding that the opposition would chalk out a strategy to bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

“With the help of the people, the opposition will not allow the budget to be passed by the parliament,” he added.

Earlier, the budget was approved by the federal cabinet meeting, which was presided over by the prime minister.

During the meeting, PM Khan said the government had prepared the best possible budget for the poor and the common man.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2021

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