Mazari steps up pressure on Speaker

WEB DESK: The issue of derogatory remarks of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif against PTI MNA Dr Shireen Mazari found its resonance in the National Assembly on the third consecutive day as the latter urged Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to decide on her privilege motion against the Minister.

Mazari submitted a privilege motion against the Minister with the Speaker on Thursday seeking an apology from the Minister on the floor of the House.

“I request action be taken against this personal abuse and name-calling by Khawaja Asif. Simply expunging the record is not enough and an apology on the floor of the House is essential,” the motion reads.

Speaking on a point of order, Mazari requested the Speaker to initiate action on her privilege motion as this was a personal attack. “If the Minister had not pointed his comments at me, then he should explain his position on the floor of the House,” she said.

She said the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus did not support her on the matter, and “we are boycotting the women caucus and also writing to its affiliates in other countries on the issue.”

Speaker, however, said that he has forwarded the privilege motion to the relevant person and would give a copy of the reply to Mazari as soon as he gets it.

Earlier speaking on the budget, PML-N MNA Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh said that India and China were making rapid progress in the region and Pakistan also needs to look into its economic policies to match the progress with these countries.

All political parties should unite on a Charter of Economy by setting aside their differences, he said, adding that all national corporations were inflicting an annual loss of Rs 400 to Rs 500 billion on the national kitty. He criticised the Ministry of Finance officials for not co-operating with the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance to ‘refine’ the budget.

“The Secretary Finance Ministry, Dr Waqar Masood has told us that it is their job to make the Budget not the Assembly,” he said, “if the public representatives cannot give their input in Budget making, then what is use of them?”

The country’s annual revenue stands around Rs 3100 billion and this could easily be enhanced to Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 billion just by introducing cogent reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue, he said.

He also said the PML-N was not honouring its manifesto as the party is committed to spending 4 per cent of the GDP on education, but the current expenditure is far less than the commitment with the masses.

PPP member Abdul Sattar Bachani lamented that the government could not ensure the quorum in the House even during the budget debate. He also termed the government’s claim of eight-hour load-shedding in rural areas a blatant lie, saying that a 12-hour load-shedding was still being carried out in rural areas of the country.

Bachani said the government’s numerous promises on incentives for agriculture sector have also failed to materialise. PTI member Dr Amjad Niazi said the government is collecting only 33 per cent of the total potential of the revenue and this ultimately burdens the poor people and farmers with more indirect taxes.

He said the farmers were not getting good price for their produce including rice, wheat and cotton, but the government has not initiated any cogent steps to fix the problem.

Abdul Waseem of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said that the federal budget is creating more problems for the poor people. He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government is extending more and more privileges to farmers and feudals but it is getting no tax from them.

He said the salaries of government employees should be increased by 20 per cent. He suggested a minimum wage of Rs 20000 of a labourer.

The MQM also condemned the besieging of the residence of senior party leader Dr Farooq Sattar in Karachi on Tuesday. He said that no other political party did even speak a single word against the raid.

Asiya Naz Tanoli said the PML-N government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has always made efforts to give better future to the country. She said that government should provide funds to the universities for research in agriculture sector.

Dr Fauzia Hameed emphasised underscored the need for setting up of industries and creation of job opportunities. About health sector, she asked, “is there no hospital in the country in which the Prime Minister could get a treatment?”

Zahra Wadood Fatemi described the budget as pro-poor. She said that as many as 500 primary schools and 50 middle schools have been closed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Maulana Ghor Shah, Bismila Khan, Rana Muhammad Qasim and others also participated in the budget debate. Leader of the Opposition and the Finance Minister did not attend the sitting while eleven Cabinet Members attended the session. – Business Recorder