Boycotting the budget session in the Parliament, the opposition — led by Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah — declared that it would not participate in any debate on the document unless it was broadcast live for the public to see.
As the National Assembly session started, the leader of the opposition reiterated his request that the speeches be broadcast live on Pakistan Television (PTV).
Addressing Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq, Shah said the opposition’s hands and feet were being tied.
“This isn’t like the old days when the people would close their eyes whenever the tiger did something,” he said.
“You have set a new precedent by letting a member of the national assembly (MNA) speak first [in the budget debate],” Shah added.
Saying the decision to start the debate with an MNA affiliated with the ruling party was not the speaker’s own decision, Shah instead said: “The government has made the speaker of the National Assembly controversial.”
“It seems like some Grade-22 officer made this decision for you, this wasn’t a political decision,” Shah insisted.
“I want you to ask yourself how history will remember you. Mr Speaker, you were well on your way to postpone the Assembly session, but then you received a note after which you started debates,” the opposition leader claimed.
The speaker responded, “I am fasting, and I can assure you that I did not receive any such note.”
“But glances were exchanged,” Shah quipped.
Suggesting that such a tactic would result in the budget never getting approved by the Assembly, the leader of the opposition stated: “The government is showing glimpses of a dictatorship in its final year.”
“I’ve noted your point and I can only make recommendations. I have already passed your message along to the government,” the speaker told the opposition leader.
Khurshid Shah said that if the Senate chairman could call for a live broadcast of Senate hearings, then so could the speaker of the National Assembly. “Is it because he’s Raza Rabbani and you are Ayaz Sadiq?” Shah asked.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s(PTI) deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the attitude of the government is that of an immature friend.
“This is the same leader of the opposition whom you couldn’t stop praising,” Qureshi reminded the parliament.
“But for you [Shah] to say that only you and your party are the pioneers of democracy would be wrong. If anything were to happen to the Constitution then the whole opposition would be as devastated as you,” Qureshi reminded the leader of the opposition.
Speaking on the matter, Minister of Defence Production Rana Tanveer noted that Khurshid Shah was a highly respected parliamentarian.
“Shah sahab gave a historic address at the protests the other day. I don’t know what’s happened to his demeanour all of a sudden. He’s being undemocratic,” he said.
“Whenever you offer a positive role, we will stand behind you. It is not just us, but everyone who respects you,” Tanveer stated.
“The PPP government never broadcast the opposition leader’s speech during their time in power,” Tanveer noted.
Rana Tanveer pointed out that his party’s opposition bench had 90 members, unlike the current opposition, which lacks in strength. “We have [already] given the opposition more respect than it deserves,” he said
“Someone is taking Shah sahab off the tracks. For four years he thought the speaker was a nice person, and now he thinks he’s controversial,” he quipped.
Taking aim at the PTI, Tanveer said that Khurshid Shah should not follow the ideologies of a party leader who does not even show up in Parliament.