ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, the opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary committee meeting called to find a consensus on a plan for coping with the country’s second Covid-19 surge.
The governing PTI’s legislators and its allies went ahead with the conference.
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Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz, addressing a news conference after the meeting, argued that the decision of the opposition parties to miss the meeting again indicated that the national interest, the welfare of citizens and economic growth were not among their priorities.
“The opposition talks about democracy and democratic standards, but it doesn’t care about them in practise,” he said.
“There are some national issues that should go beyond politics and which should be addressed by consensus.”
The minister said that under the legislative structure, both the treasury and opposition representatives had their own part to play.
He urged the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to postpone its upcoming rallies to avoid the spread of coronavirus, an 11-party opposition coalition.
He added, “The opposition parties are playing with people’s lives for personal gain.” He told the country, however that the government will protect people’s lives and livelihoods “with or without opposition.”
“The aim of the opposition parties is to secure the money that they plundered from the nation when they were in power, and they will not be given any concessions by the government.”
Apparently, the growing political line between the treasury and opposition banks has left parliament as an unreliable institution, the ultimate legislative body, while the government is hesitant to schedule National Assembly and Senate meetings while the opposition continues to boycott parliamentary committee meetings.
The opposition parties have agreed to stay away from the parliamentary committee meetings as they are headed by Speaker Asad Qaiser of the National Assembly, who they suspect of being biassed in his actions.
In a statement on Tuesday, PML-Shahid N’s Khaqan Abbasi, PDM’s secretary general, said the government had no strategy to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, and if it had one, it should carry it to the National Assembly.
Abbasi said in the same breath that the speaker had lost the confidence of the opposition parties and was no longer a non-partisan individual.
If Qaiser presides over the NA session in the future, it is uncertain how the opposition will react.
This was the seventh time that a legislative committee hearing in the last six weeks had been boycotted by the opposition.
On November 11, the NA speaker had to delay a conference of parliamentary leaders—in which members were expected to be briefed by military officials on the latest national security issues, following the boycott of the oppositions.
The government maintains that the opposition parties favour personal interests to national interests, while the opposition has not only expressed disapproval of the speaker, but has proceeded to hold demonstrations in numerous cities to try to overthrow the government.
PML-N spokesman Marriyum Aurangzeb declared on Wednesday evening that the PDM would “definitely hold its planned rallies in Multan and other cities.
“These historic rallies will prove to be a referendum against an incompetent and corrupt gang imposed on the Pakistani people,” she said.
She condemned the detention of Ali Musa Gilani, the son of former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, and others ahead of the PDM’s Multan rally.