ISLAMABAD: Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday finally delivered his speech in the Lower House after three days of rowdy behaviour by lawmakers.
Moments before Shahbaz’s speech, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had announced that the government and Opposition had reached an agreement to run the National Assembly “in an orderly manner”.
The announcement followed days of ruckus and general disorder in the lower house of Parliament as the Treasury and Opposition benches sparred over the federal budget for the 2022 fiscal year.
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 of Prime Minister Imran Khan for “ruining lives of Pakistanis”.
Shahbaz, referring to the 21 government bills that were passed on June 10, said the lawmaking done a few days ago has flaws in it.
The Opposition leader slammed the government, saying the budget was “fake”, as the pockets of the poor people were “empty” and they were not able to feed their families.
“In three years, 20 million people have been pushed below the poverty line, while the growth rate has come down drastically in the last year,” he said.
The wages of labourers have fallen by 18% in the last three years as people keep asking where are the promised 10 million jobs and 5 million houses, the Opposition leader said.
“The unemployment rate stands at 15% […] Food prices have shot up by 30% in the last three years,” he said.
“There are unprecedented differences between the provinces […] If the government only develops Punjab and leaves out rest of the provinces, then this is not development,” the Opposition leader said.
He said when coronavirus had hit the country, the Opposition had sat down with the government to discuss a plan of action, but Prime Minister Imran Khan left the meeting.
“You had pushed us against the wall even when we tried to help you during the stressful times of coronavirus,” he said.
Casting aspersions on the government’s spendings, he asked that why were billions of rupees not spent on coronavirus vaccines?
“If this budget will not reduce poverty, then we condemn it, and we will not allow this house to pass it,” Shahbaz said. “No nation prospers if the government destroys the agricultural and industrial sector,” Shahbaz said.
The Opposition leader said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin claims the country’s economy is boosting, but despite that, wheat prices went up from Rs35 to Rs70.
Shahbaz said 1.1 million tonnes of sugar were exported with the prime minister’s approval, and a subsidy worth billions of rupees was given on it.
“First sugar and wheat were exported, then they were imported — it incurred a loss of billions of rupees on the national exchequer,” Shahbaz said.
Shahbaz said during the PML-N’s government the International Monetary Fund’s programme had been completed, but now, the progress has reversed during PTI’s three years.
“The government should inform the Opposition about the conditions of the IMF,” he said, as the government keeps reiterating that the international money lender had imposed harsh conditions.
The Opposition leader slammed the prime minister for not taking the house in confidence.
Shahbaz, pointing towards the prime minister’s seat, said: “This seat remains empty when there is a discussion on Afghanistan; this seat remains empty when there is a discussion on Palestine and Kashmir, this seat remains empty when there is a discussion on inflation and unemployment; this seat remains empty when there is a discussion on coronavirus.”