LAHORE, June 22: The treasury benches watched spellbound, as PPP's Samiullah Khan pointed out an 'in-house' change of leadership in the provincial budget documents on Tuesday.

When Mr Khan took the floor to contribute his share of criticism of the budget in the house, no one was attentive because almost all were tired of routine praises and criticism poured in by the treasury and opposition benches.

However, they lent their ears when he disclosed that the provincial government had changed its political leader within a year. He pointed out that in the preface to the budget document 2003-04, the government had claimed that the budget would reflect political and social programme of prime minister Jamali.

But Jamali was replaced by Gen Musharraf in the budget document for 2004-05, he stated to the surprise of all. He alleged that these were agencies which had played tricks with the ruling party in the budget document.

This game (with democracy) was being played for the last 55 years by the man sitting in the office adjacent to the Supreme Court building (in Islamabad), he alleged. Mr Khan said no nation could progress without a long-term and short-term planning.

But he warned the incumbent rulers that by giving vision 2020 they had put their future at stake. He reminded that it was Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N who was the first to give a long-term plan, Vision 2010, to the country in 1998.

But his vision ended up in Anarkali police station lock-up on May 11 (the day Shahbaz Sharif attempted to return Pakistan) where he asserted that neither any vision could be given nor could it be implemented in Pakistan.

The PPP legislator said no vision could progress unless the army was away from barracks. He was also critical of the law against begging by children, arguing that "it was unjustified when the rulers themselves were international beggars," a reference to seeking of loans from world donors by various governments.

Earlier, MMA parliamentary leader Asghar Gujjar demanded that the budget should be presented afresh, as the current one did not contain data on poverty. Demanding audit of district governments' accounts as a hefty amount of Rs68 billion had been allocated for these, he regretted that the volume of the budget reduced to 40 per cent after allocations for districts, commissions and personal expenditures by high officials.

He also demanded resignation of the agriculture minister for failing to achieve various targets set for his department. Seeking relief for the farming community in loans, power and tariff, he also drew attention of the government towards poor conditions in hospitals and the police department.

He stressed the need for making arrangements for education, besides literacy of the new generations. Otherwise, he said, the nation would produce traitors and turncoats, and not scholars.

United PML's Javed Iqbal urged queuing up behind the chief minister by both the treasury and the opposition to help materialize the dream of progress. Minority MPA Javed Michael Sahutra demanded share for his community in residential plots and agriculture lands being distributed by the government among shelterless and landless people.

PML-N's Mujahid Ali Shah deplored that not a single treasury member spoke of Jamali during their budget speeches for they knew that their lifeline was in the hands of Gen Musharraf. He also criticized the government for not involving house committees in the budget-making process.

Answering Mr Shah's claim that no relief was provided to the masses in the budget, united PML's Najaf Sial said wheat flour had been subsidized. At this, Mr Shah quipped that he should not say this on a busy road otherwise people would stone him.

Commenting on foreign exchange reserves claims of the incumbent government, the PML-N MPA lauded his leader Nawaz Sharif, who had rejected all lucrative offers and gone for nuclear explosions in 1998.

Unlike the present rulers who had accepted money in return for massacre of Muslims in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Wana, he said his leader gave priority to national pride.

Cooperative minister Col Anwar (retired) objected to it, saying Mr Shah was defacing facts. He said there was no role of Nawaz Sharif in the manufacturing and protection of the nuclear bombs.

He was just the prime minister when the nuclear devices were exploded by Pakistan, he added. Mujahid Shah asked if army was the supervisor of the nuclear programme then why the benefactor Pakistan Dr Abdul Qadir had been arrested (under proliferation charges). PPP's Javed Siddiqui, presenting some facts and figures, claimed that south Punjab was being ignored in development schemes.

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