During Wednesday’s National Assembly session, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi took a jab at each other. A day earlier, the NA passed the budget for the new fiscal year with a majority vote amid a dismal showing by the opposition.
Bilawal claimed that the government rigged Tuesday’s vote on the budget. He argued the NA speaker was required to count votes when a voice vote was challenged and it was not a matter of his “choice”.
“Irresponsible behavior” by some treasury members was blamed at the time, he said. “If you had carried out the count, we would’ve at least brought our stance on record. I stood up at the time of the last vote and challenged your ruling. But you stood up and left,” Bilawal told Speaker Asad Qaiser.
“Is it not rigging if we can’t record our vote during the budget debate or during the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) debate. Is this not against the rules,” he questioned.
Bilawal hits back
Bilawal said that Qureshi is criticizing the party which made him the FM president of its Punjab chapter. “I have heard him say jiye Bhutto and agli bari, phir Zardari to protect his ministry.” He held him responsible as FM for making alleged deals related to Kashmir.
“When the US is withdrawing from Afghanistan, he should be focusing on arranging a phone call with President Joe Biden due to Pakistan’s strategic importance. It is a matter of shame that our premier doesn’t even get a phone call,” he said.
“The prime minister should tell the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to tap Qureshi’s phone. When he was the foreign minister during the PPP’s government, he used to campaign in the world asking to make him premier instead of Yousuf Raza Gilani,” he said.
Shah Mahmood responds to Bilawal
In response to Bilawal, FM said, “What are you talking about? In Sindh, where you have the government, you did not allow the opposition leader to speak”.
“You can have reservations about the speaker’s decision, but you take it up in his chamber. You don’t confront them on the floor of the house,” he said. He pointed out that according to the charter of diplomacy, the chairmanship of the provincial Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was given to the opposition. “Have you done that?”
The minister asked Bilawal what basis he was relying on to challenge the legitimacy of the budget. He asserted the opposition would not be able to suppress the government by making noise and hold the former responsible for disruptions in the lower house.
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