The opposition swung from cooperative to disruptive during the National Assembly proceedings on Tuesday, leaving observers wondering if it was still following its policy of boycotting the ongoing budget debate.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) granted special permission to its lawmaker Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch to take part in the debate to discuss the issue of Balochistan.
“A dialogue process can only be launched after the resolution of the missing persons’ issue,” Baloch said. He underlined the need for a substantial answer to the issue of Balochistan, instead of cosmetic measures.
He blamed the apathetic attitude of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party government towards the people of his province for the state of affairs in Balochistan.
“It is because of the Supreme Court that we learn what is happening in Balochistan,” he said, adding that the government should accept the right of the Baloch people over the resources of their province.
PML-N lawmakers maintained discipline during Baloch’s speech, but staged an unannounced walkout following that, and subsequently attempted to disrupt the proceedings by pointing out quorum.
When that did not work, the opposition returned with charged slogans against the president and the prime minister and created a ruckus till the end of the proceedings.
Besides the opposition’s, the proceedings witnessed two more walkouts – both by lawmakers from the ruling PPP’s allied parties. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a walkout in protest against the killing of a brother of its MPA in Karachi, and Shahnaz Sheikh from the PML-Q walked out to register her protest against the absence of Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and federal secretaries from the house.
Attiya Inayatuallh from the PML-Q termed the budget “a positive sign for a democratic government” but added that “it cannot be called perfect.” Dr Abdul Kadir Khanzada from the MQM asked the government to incorporate his party’s suggestions given in the shadow budget. Himayatullah Mayar from the ANP censured the opposition for its protest campaign against the government.
Meanwhile, Shireen Arshad Khan from the PML-N asked for an investigation on why flights had been diverted to Lahore Monday night and were not allowed to land at Islamabad airport.
“[The] airport was sealed for two hours due to arrival of Malik Riaz,” she said, while speaking on a point of order.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.