The opposition parties on Wednesday boycotted a meeting of the parliamentary committee convened to reach a consensus on a strategy to deal with the second wave of the Covid-19 in the country.
The lawmakers of the ruling PTI and its allies went ahead with the meeting.
Addressing a news conference after the meeting, Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz maintained that the opposition parties’ decision to skip the meeting again showed that national interest, people’s health and economic development were not among their priorities.
“The opposition talks about democracy and democratic norms but practically it does not care about them,” he added.
“There are some national issues that should be above politics and tackled through consensus.”
The minister said both the treasury and opposition members had their own role which they should fulfil under the parliamentary system.
He asked the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an 11-party opposition alliance, to cancel its future rallies to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
“The opposition parties are playing with the lives of people for personal gains,” he said. However, he assured the nation that the government would protect the lives and livelihoods of the people “with or without the opposition”.
“The objective of the opposition parties is to secure the money they have plundered from the nation when they were in power and the government will not give them any concessions.”
The growing political row between the treasury and opposition benches has seemingly left parliament – the supreme legislative body – as an ineffective entity as the government is reluctant to call sessions of the National Assembly and Senate while the opposition continues to boycott meetings of the parliamentary committee.
The opposition parties have decided to stay away from the meetings of the parliamentary committee as they are presided over by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, who they accuse of being biased in his conduct.
PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the secretary general of PDM, said in a statement on Tuesday that the government had no policy to deal with the Covid-19 situation and if it had one, it should bring it to the National Assembly.
In the same breath, Abbasi said that the speaker had lost the trust of the opposition parties and he was no longer a non-partisan person.
It is unclear how opposition would react if Qaiser presides the NA session in future.
This was the third time that the opposition has boycotted a parliamentary committee meeting in the past six weeks.
The NA speaker had to put off a meeting of parliamentary leaders on November 11 — in which the lawmakers were scheduled to be briefed by military officials on the current issues of national security – following the opposition’s boycott.
The government claims that the opposition parties prefer personal interests over the national interests while the opposition has not only expressed distrust over the speaker but has continued holding rallies in different cities in an attempt to oust the government.
On Wednesday evening, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb announced that the PDM would “definitely” hold its scheduled rallies in Multan and other cities
“These historic rallies will prove to be a referendum against the incompetent and corrupt gang imposed on the people of Pakistan,” she said.
She condemned the arrest of the former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son, Ali Musa Gilani, and others ahead of the PDM’s Multan rally.