Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday finally delivered his speech in the Lower House after three days of chaotic behaviour by lawmakers.
Speaking on the floor of the NA today, the Opposition leader said all of the lawmakers present in the assembly were elected by 220 million Pakistanis and they were responsible for changing the nation’s future for the better.
There was complete silence in the house during Shehbaz Sharif’s speech, who lashed out at the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan for “ruining lives of Pakistanis”
He said that in the last three years, many taxes were imposed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government because of which the “poor man’s meals have been halved.” Hunger and hopelessness had been created in the country because of previous budgets, he said, adding that Budget 2021-2022 would further increase inflation and the poor would suffer more, reports Dawn.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader pointed out that there was a lack of trust among provinces and between the provinces and the federal government, claiming that such differences have never been seen before.
“If only Punjab progresses and the rest of Pakistan does not, then it is not progress,” stressed Shehbaz.
Shehbaz also criticised the PTI government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying “the entire Opposition termed Covid as a ‘national emergency’ which [they and the government] would tackle together after setting aside our differences.”
He recalled that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had then called a conference which was also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “We were all [united] on this but the prime minister left after his speech. Was there something more important than Covid?”
“Can any nation remain alive like this with an atomic bomb on the one hand and a begging bowl on the other?” he asked.
He stressed that the country would have to generate resources. “If we want to end dictation, then we will have to break the begging bowl.”
Shehbaz said that while the government should help in setting up langars (soup kitchens), but its “real work” was policy-making and making sure that those who had to go to the soup kitchens were able to stand on their feet.
“The aim is not to raise an army of beggars but an army of doers and nation builders. If agriculture and industry are destroyed and poverty and unemployment are taken forward, then nations do not progress,” he said. This was the reason that after the latest budget, people were “screaming that their pockets are empty and [asking] how to feed their children”, he added.
Talking about Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin’s speech in the NA last week, Shehbaz recalled that “the minister said Pakistan was a very successful crop-producing country but in the very next breath he said that Pakistan had become a food importer.”
Earlier today, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said the government and the Opposition had come to an agreement to ensure the smooth running of National Assembly sessions.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad alongside Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Khattak said a “consensus” was reached in a meeting with the Opposition and a proposal was devised, which would be elaborated upon by Qaiser later today.
The NA was subject to disruption this week amid repeated confrontations between the treasury and Opposition benches during the budget session.