The government and opposition – namely the PTI – on Friday exchanged blame over the dismal performance of the economy in a heated session with the treasury berating the former ruling party for leaving the country’s economy in ruins.
The opposition maintained that the current economic woes were the lingering artefact of the previous PTI government’s dismal performance.
During a session chaired by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem said that the country was currently suffering from an economic crisis, adding that the state’s welfare was being sacrificed on the altar of personal gains in politics.
He said that there was still time left at the government’s disposal to take steps wisely and call general elections to give the people a chance to form their own government.
An oversized federal cabinet comprising more than 80 members was at the helm of affairs yet the government was unable to rein in the crisis, he added.
“Industrialists and businessmen are handing over their keys to the State Bank of Pakistan and the fuel stocks would not last long either,” Dr Shahzad said and added that the government’s economy was dependent on “begging and borrowing”.
Referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent interview with Al Arabiya news channel, the opposition leader said the premier’s statements were being subjected to mockery in India.
“The prime minister [in the interview] said that we fought three wars with India due to which more misery, poverty and unemployment was brought upon the people. We have abandoned the memory of the blood of martyrs that fired up those wars,” he lamented.
“There is still time to reflect and hold general elections to remedy the crisis,” Dr Shahzad advised the government while accusing it of contesting polls “with the help of the system”.
“If a judge gives relief to them, he is given a good position after retirement,” he alleged.
‘PTI failed to maintain development’s pace’
Responding to the concern raised by the opposition leader, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi alleged that the country has found itself in dire straits as the previous government failed to maintain the pace of development.
“The people will tell about PTI's performance through the ballot,” he added.
He went on to say that the havoc the previous government wreaked on the economy was too devastating to be accounted for, adding that the PTI did what the enemies of Pakistan do.
“You do not have a democratic outlook … when you were the prime minister, you referred it to as the upper house but resorted to calling a pile of filth after your ouster via a no-confidence move,” he lambasted.
“You do not want the country's economy to improve.”
Nadra workers dismissed
Meanwhile, the Senate was informed that 43 workers of the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) had been dismissed for giving national identity cards to foreigners.
He said the authority issues CNICs to Pakistani nationals only. However, due to the presence of a large number of illegal immigrants throughout the country, it has to be extra vigilant to counter “the menace of non-nationals inclusion in the database while ensuring that only genuine citizens should be registered”.
In the past, a few non-nationals succeeded in obtaining CNICs by providing fake documents through the connivance of Nadra employees. However, CNICs of such non-nationals are digitally cancelled as and when reported.
“During the last three years, 181 CNICs, issued to non-nationals, have been cancelled by Nadra. However, cases of 8,152 individuals are under the process of National status verification,” he added.
“One million identity cards were blocked from 2013 to 2018. The Nadra national identity card system is being made foolproof,” he stated.
“No proposal to grant citizenship to Afghan nationals is under consideration. I cannot say anything with certainty about the number of Afghan nationals in Karachi,” he added.
‘42 journalists killed during last four years’
Meanwhile, documents submitted by the information ministry in the Senate, revealed that at least 42 journalists were killed in Pakistan during the last four years.
The documents elaborated that out of the 42, 15 journalists were killed in Punjab, 11 in Sindh, 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and three in Balochistan.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that it was only in one of the 42 cases that the accused was arrested for the murder of a journalist.
The Senate directed the Ministry of Interior to submit a comprehensive report on the killing of journalists in Pakistan.
Senator Danesh Kumar, however, disagreed with the number of slain journalists and said that the Ministry of Information is unaware that not three, but more than 10 journalists have been killed in Balochistan.
"What steps is the government taking to protect the journalists of Balochistan?" he questioned.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed noted that no arrests have been made in the attacks on journalists Hamid Mir, Absar Alam, Asad Toor, and Matiullah Jan.
Arshad Sharif would not have been martyred if the accused attackers of all these journalists had been caught, he added.
Senator Kamran Murtaza said journalists lose their lives in search of the truth. "If it comes out who the murdered journalists were active against, the murderers will also be caught," he said.