The session of the Lower House was marred by verbal duels as lawmakers belonging to both the treasury and opposition benches trained guns at each other where they were supposed to debate rising inflation — especially the skyrocketing prices of food items amid the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s apparent inability to control the same.
According to The Express Tribune, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif on Tuesday led the opposition’s onslaught against the government in the National Assembly, but it was Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who stole the spotlight with his remarks against Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, drawing a strong reaction from the treasury benches.
Calling the premier “incompetent, incapable and selected”, Bilawal asked him to step down in the country’s best interest. “People are suffering due to inflation and unemployment. This government has sunk a fledgeling economy it had inherited from its predecessors… unemployment and poverty are at their highest level,” he said.
Presenting economic statistics, Bilawal said that inflation during the past 18 months had surpassed the figure recorded in the past 10 years, and went on to claim that the prices of food items had increased by 78 per cent.
“On top of this, the government has increased gas and power tariffs, and fuel prices,” he said. “We cannot sit idle when the people are suffering,” added Bilawal, who has already announced plans to launch a movement to oust the government.
Also, criticisng the government for its deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said it was poorly negotiated those “who had compromised on the rights of the people of Pakistan”.
“Now… we will not ask him [PM Imran] to commit suicide, but at least for the sake of the people, he must accept his mistakes and resign so that the masses could be provided relief. He must acknowledge that he is incompetent and incapable,” Bilawal said in another dig at the premier.
“When you have a selected government, then there is no regard for the people’s suffering,” Bilawal said, alleging that Imran’s entire career “could be credited to a chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency”.
With Bilawal’s comments not going down well with Speaker Asad Qaiser, the latter said Imran was the PM and Bilawal could not speak of him in this manner. He reprimanded Bilawal and ordered the remarks be expunged from proceedings of the house.
Communications Minister Murad Saeed, who is known for his aggressive speeches on the floor of the house, responded to Bilawal’s speech by launching a counterattack on the PPP chairperson. “How can someone who was handed his political career in his mother’s will, call the PM as ‘selected’,” he said.
He asked how an “accidental chairman” could teach politics to them [PTI leaders] and told the lawmakers that he was the son of a labourer who owned no properties and that he was not a slave to anyone. “I challenge [Asif Ali] Zardari’s son to pick any constituency, I will contest elections against him.”
Speaking next, Abdul Qadir Patel criticised Saeed’s taunts at the PPP chief, besides calling out the government for its “flawed” policies. “The common man is facing hardships in running day to day matters,” he said.