ISLAMABAD - The main opposition parties on Thursday staged a token walkout from the National Assembly (NA) to record their concern on what they termed unsatisfactory explanation by the government on the status of $1.5 billion given by a Muslim country to Pakistan.
The opposition lawmakers excluding Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) before staging a walkout raised multiple issues including government’s intentions for not increasing pay and pension in the upcoming budget, non-allocation of development funds to lawmakers and not disclosing the name of the friendly country which has gifted $1.5 billion aid.
The government side also received a threat of hunger strike from leader of opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah about the government’s intentions to terminate 60,000 contractual employees in various departments.
The treasury benches in response to back-to-back attacks from opposition parties defended that the government has categorically cleared its intentions not to send army troops to any country.
Taking the floor, PTI chief Imran Khan raised serious doubts on $1.5 billion grant gifted by a Muslim country. “No country gives grant of $1.5 billion free of cost,” he said, adding that they should be informed about the proper status of this aid.
The PTI chief was of the view that such gifts brought miseries for the country in the past and could do the same in future too. “We raised Jahadis for receiving such gifts, later declared them as terrorists again for getting gifts,” he said giving the reference of 1980s.
He said that Pakistan should not indulge in Sunni-Shia conflict, which is being enhanced internationally.
Taking the floor, Khursheed Shah, on a point of order, warned the government to avoid terminating the services of contractual employees of different departments.
‘If government intends to take this step, I will observe hunger strike before the parliament...They are not Israeli or Indian children, why is the government taking this step,” he said adding that these employees had helped in increasing the revenue of departments.
Khursheed, a couple of days before, had also written a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, asking him to regularize the services of contractual employees working in various ministries and departments of the federal government.
Shah also raised serious concerns over government’s intentions for not increasing pay and pension in the upcoming budget 2014-15. He further came down hard on government for non-tabling the adjournment motion of opposition parties.
Taking the floor, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed raised concern about not receiving the development funds to start works. “No proper concern raised on my issue, as I was offloaded from PIA flight,” he said adding that poverty, inflation and other issues were increasing in the country.
Another opposition party lawmaker from PPP Dr. Nafeesa Shah, on a point of order, criticized the government for not clarifying the purpose of 1.5 billion dollars aid. “Why adjournment motion about 1.5 billion dollars has not been taken up in the house,” she asked.
Responding to the concerns raised by opposition parties, PML-N Minister Zahid Hamid said the government has already informed about the status of the grant in length. “This grant is without any condition and no troops will be sent to any country,” said Zahid Hamid, attempting to cool down the situation.
Parliamentary Secretary Rana Muhammad Afzal said the friendly country has given the gift to the country without any conditions. “This country has given an open choice to use this aid in any sector,” he said adding that this matter should not be raised in such a manner.
About Sheikh Rashid’s offloading from PIA flight at the behest of an American agency, he said that the previous government (PPP) had signed this agreement with US to bar from flying any passengers on any matter. “If the opposition wants to undo this process then they should undo it with proper amendment,” he added.
Adding his share, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir reminded Sheikh Rashid about his challenge to resign from NA seat if dollar came down to Rs98. “What about your comment as you publicly asked to resign from NA seat,” he said.
AML chief Sheikh Rashid, however, did not respond to Barjees Tahir on his claim.
Earlier, Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and FIA are increasing operations against people involved in grey traffic in the country.