Minister’s apology fails to quell National Assembly uproar

The opposition on Thursday refused to accept an unconditional apology of Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif over his highly objectionable remarks and staged a walkout from the National Assembly.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif appeared on the floor of the National Assembly and personally tendered an unconditional apology to the House but refused to mention Shireen Mazari’s name, stating that he didn’t name anyone during Wednesday’s outburst.

“The situation which created in the House on Wednesday was very regretful. Though response was natural at that situation I apologise on the floor of the House,” he said.

He said that on one hand the opposition MNAs raise their voice in support of gender equality but on other hand they start using it as a refuge whenever situation goes out of control.

“I am tendering an apology personally not on the instructions of my party and I hope it would be accepted,” he said. Dr Shireen Mazari said the Minister should apologise by mentioning her name. She said that Khawaja Asif used unparliamentary language against her and decency demands that he should tender an apology. Khawaja Asif said, “Mr Speaker you can examine my speech, I never mentioned the name of Shireen Mazari.”

Shah Mehmood Qureshi too asked the Minister to mention Mazari’s name in his apology. “Khawaja Asif should not make this an issue of ego,” he said.

Dr Nafisa Shah of Pakistan People’s Party also supported the views of other opposition members. After it, the opposition staged a walk out from the House, saying that they were not satisfied with Minister’s apology.

Speaking on the budget, PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar suggested that the appointment on top positions of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) should be made through Parliament to make the bureau an independent organisation.

He said the PBS should be made independent. He said that appointments through the Parliament would ensure that trustworthy people are selected for performing duties at this key organisation. He said this would lead to collection of authenticated and correct data which would be beneficial for the whole nation.

Naveed Qamar said that there was 44 percent expenditure of debt servicing in previous year and it has reached at 47 percent this year. He said that it would reach 50 percent in next financial year.

He said the government is borrowing from commercial banks for Public Sector Development Programmes (PSDP). He said that country’s exports have declined and that an overvalued rupee would affect exports further. Jehangir Khan Tarin of PTI was of the view that there is no vision or plan for development of the country in the budget.

He said independent economists are challenging the figures mentioned in the budget. He said that government claimed 4 % growth of GDP while economists termed it 3.1 percent. He said that growth of agriculture has reduced by -2 of GDP. He said that a task force should be formed to improve the performance of agriculture sector.

He said that only five lakh people are paying taxed in the country. “The government is promoting black economy,” he said. Mian Abdul Mannan said the government has focused on development of agriculture sector in the budget.

He said as a result of measures taken by the government, tax collection has increased. Taking part in the budget debate, MNA Jamshed Dasti rejected the budget dubbing it an anti-people as “it has been made in accordance with the instructions of the IMF and other international financial institutions.”

He said the incentives announced in the budget for agriculture would not materialise and their fate would not be different from the Kissan’s Package announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year. Dasti was of view that the minimum wage announced in budgets is also not paid as all factory owners and industrialists are sitting in the House and they do not want to pay even the minimum wages to their employees.

Pakistan Awami Muslim League MNA Iftikhar Uddin said the government should focus on exploiting hydropower potential in the northern areas including Chitral, besides extending health and education facilities to the far-flung areas of the Northern Areas.

-Copyright Business Recorder