ISLAMABAD - The ruling PPP on Monday had to face severe criticism in the National Assembly not only from the main opposition party - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - but also from its two of its coalition partners, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP), as they staged a protest walkout from the house over the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products.
The three parties on the first day of the fresh session of the Lower House of the Parliament demanded the government for immediate withdrawal of increase in petroleum prices, saying neither the Parliament not the National Assembly was taken into confidence by the PP-led federal government while taking the decision. The ANP, a key partner in the coalition, also threatened to quit the government if increase in the POL prices was not reversed.
A senior leader of PML-N Ashan Iqbal, while implicitly criticising the protest of the MQM, said the party should quit the coalition government rather staging a walkout from the house if it was serious to solve the issues of the masses.
Abdul Qadir Khanzada from MQM was the first who strongly protested over the increase in petroleum prices and said during the last two months, the prices had been increased up to 25 per cent that had severe impact on the lives of the common masses. He said neither the National Assembly nor the committee already formed on the prices of POL products had been taken into confidence or consulted on the issue.
He said Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza had given a ruling that the government would consult the committee prior to any announcing an increase in POL prices. Later, the MQM members a protest walkout from the house.
Ahsan Iqbal also launched a severe attack on the government for increase in POL prices and tariff rates of tube wells, killings in Karachi, massacre of Hazaras in Quetta on sectarian basis and worsening law and order situation in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as poor economic condition of the country. However, he suggested the MQM that it should walkout (quit) of the government rather staging protest walkout while sitting with on the treasury benches. He also demanded immediate withdrawal of increase in POL prices as well as of tariff rates of tube wells, an end to the killings in Karachi as well as extortion mafia there and assassinations in Balochistan before his party staged a protest walk out over these issues.
Ahsan Iqbal further said that the Hindu community in Sindh and people in Gilgit-Baltistan should be protected at all cost. He also demanded that the Sindh government should resign if it could control the law and order situation in Karachi and added that the elements behind these killings should be exposed.
Haider Ali Shah from ANP threatened to quit the coalition if the increase was not withdrawn immediately. He said the government was charging Rs 35 per litre in the shape of different levies on petrol and these could be decreased to provide relief to the masses.
Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar, however, responding the concerns of partners as well as of opposition said the government had no control over the POL prices as these increase or decrease according to international market.
PPP Chief Whip Syed Khursheed Shah moved an adjournment motion before the house to discuss the prevailing law and order situation in the country, to which the speaker observed that the debate on the issue would be started from next Monday.
Akhundzada Chitan, an MNA from Fata, threatened the government of holding a protest sit-in outside the Parliament House along with his family if the government did not solve the problems of war-hit area, where 10,000 people were recently displaced from their homes due to the fear of military operation.
PMLQ’s Nausheen Saeed raised the issue of a Christian girl Rimsha, an accused of desecration of Holy Quran, and demanded the girl should be immediately released and the prayer leader should be given exemplary punishment that fabricated the evidence in the case. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he would expose the conspiracies hatched in the case later on the other and added that the law should be followed for the release of the girl as FIR had been registered against the accused girl. Waseem Akhtar of MQM also raised the issue of release of the girl.
Meanwhile, newly-elected MNA Abdul Qadir Gilani also took the oath. He has been elected from the seat that was vacated after his father and former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court in contempt of court case.
Speaking in house amidst slogans of the PPP workers from the galleries, Qadir said the court disqualified his father but the court of people again voted for him in the shape of his son.