September 24, 2023

Bilawal, Qureshi engage in war of words in NA


Islamabad – Staff Reporter:

The National Assembly session on Wednesday became heated after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Foreign Shah Mahmood Qureshi engaged in a fiery debate ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s expected speech.

In his speech, Bilawal claimed that the government “rigged” yesterday’s vote on the federal budget. The PPP chairman said that according to the rules, the NA speaker was obligated to carry out a count when a voice vote was challenged and it was not a matter of his “choice”.

He said the final vote on the budget was what really mattered and that some treasury members had exhibited “irresponsible behaviour” at the time, lamenting the fact that members from the opposition benches were missing as well.

“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 said, addressing National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.

FM Qureshi responds to Bilawal

Responding to Bilawal, the foreign minister lashed out at the PPP chairman for levelling allegations of violating parliamentary tradition.

He said that the charter of diplomacy states that the chairmanship of the provincial Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is given to the opposition. “Have you done that? Have you given the opposition representation in the provincial standing committees? What parliamentary tradition are you talking about?”

The minister also questioned the basis on which Bilawal had challenged the legitimacy of the budget. “In Sindh, the opposition is not being allowed to speak,” he said, referring to the barring of at least eight opposition lawmakers from the Sindh Assembly.

“The leader of the opposition wasn’t present during the debate on the finance bill while 25 PML-N members were missing,” he said. He stated that the opposition would not be able to suppress the government by making noise, holding the former responsible for spoiling the atmosphere of the lower house.

Bilawal questions Qureshi’s criticism

In response to the foreign minister, Bilawal said that Qureshi was criticising the party which had made him the foreign minister and the president of the party’s Punjab chapter.

“I have heard him say jiye Bhutto and agli bari, phir Zardari to protect his ministry,” he said. He also questioned his role as foreign minister, holding him responsible for being involved in making deals on Kashmir.

“When the United States 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.

He said that the Sindh assembly speaker had banned opposition lawmakers for creating a ruckus. “The Pakistan resolution was passed from the Sindh Assembly,” he said, adding that the opposition had not presented a single cut motion during provincial budget proceedings. “This shows you their seriousness.”

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