By Mumtaz Alvi
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shaukat Aziz’s economic policies came under fire in the National Assembly on Tuesday for the deepening food crisis and faltering economy. The ex-government, led by Pakistan Muslim League-Q, was also slammed for its lavish style and the man-made sugar, flour and other shortages.
Chaudhry Muhammad Berjees Tahir tabled a resolution, which said this House was of the opinion that the government should take steps to control price-hike in the country. As the lawmaker spoke on the burning issue of price-hike, members on both sides of the aisle showed little interest in what he said, as several MNAs did not return to the House after the break for Maghrib prayers.
Looking towards the vacant seats of ministers, the MNA said this was the level of interest of ministers, then how would the government be able to check price spiral and provide some relief to the masses.
Pakistan, he said, was flooded with a variety of problems, including flour, sugar, electricity crises and law and order problem. “There is an issue of the restoration of the judges and judiciary’s freedom. The life of the common man has been made miserable,” he said.
The measures taken from October 1999 to the date of elections were before the nation, he said and alleged the previous government itself created crisis after crisis. He mentioned how sugar price was hiked from Rs20 per kg to Rs50 and then it was fixed at Rs30 per kg after the then prime minister’s intervention.
He complained about, as he said, the members’ lack of interest in the issue being discussed in the House and referred to the suicide of a mother with her kids in Lahore the other day. “The House should address these issues. To whom should the common man talk to about his problems? The ex-premier had said that they would be taking part in the elections on the basis of their performance,” the lawmaker said.
About the law and order problem, he said today, a common man had no access to the top police officers, as barbed wire was spread around their own offices. He blamed the former government for the massive increase in prices of basic kitchen items such as sugar, oil and rice.
Berjees Tahir flayed the President House and then prime minister and Punjab chief minister’s race of buying bulletproof vehicles, whereas thousands of factories and mills had been shut down and employees were rendered jobless. He warned the government must pay attention in resolving the basic economic problems of the majority of country’s population, which lived below the poverty line.
In this context, he said the former USSR had thousands of atomic bombs and missiles but its break up cold not be averted just because of its economic problems. Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, another treasury MNA, said the basic question before the government was how to increase production of various items in the face of massive load shedding. He made mention of Multan riots and said the people were giving vent to their anger, as they could not do so during the dictatorial rule.
Source: The News, 16/4/2008