MNA slams ‘fatal’ flaws in free flour scheme

ISLAMABAD, April 06:The federal government’s free flour scheme on Wednesday came under heavy criticism during the National Assembly session as a lawmaker condemned the loss of lives during its distribution.

PTI MNA Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari delivered a passionate speech in a sitting of the lower house of parliament, chaired by NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, on a call-attention notice to highlight the “lost sense of morality” in the country.

Mazari pointed out that the offer of free items usually attracted people, but unless there was a change in morality, the situation would not improve.

He also described the scheme as “all lies and fraud,” drawing attention to how some people acquired free flour and sold it at their shops, thereby defeating the purpose of the programme.

“If you want to provide flour, do not make people stand in queues,” he continued.

“There are those who are not entitled to free flour but are receiving it. People have lost their sense of shame; we are morally bankrupt,” he added.

Mazari went on to question whether a fresh election would end the flour crisis or inflation.

He demanded that procedures be put in place to provide free flour to those who really needed it.

He regretted the loss of lives in stampedes at distribution points in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

During the sitting, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Punjab elections, wherein it had ruled that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) move to postpone the polls till October was “unconstitutional”, again sparked a heated debate among lawmakers.

Some government members staged protests and criticised the court’s ruling.

The lawmakers urged institutions to work within their limits, with Federal Power Minister Khurram Dastgir of the PML-N maintaining that the country needed the “doctrine of democracy”, and not the doctrine of necessity.

Dastgir criticised the SC verdict, claiming that the apex court had once again revived the doctrine of necessity, and the convictions of former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Yousuf Raza Gilani were still controversial.

Federal Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Aminul Haque of the MQM-P called for a full court bench to hear the matter, as he believed that the scales were not equal in the SC decision.

Haque also questioned why the court only spoke about elections in Punjab within 90 days and not in K-P, suggesting that someone had received “support”.

Federal Religious Affairs Minister Mufti Abdul Shakoor of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Pakistan and Jamaat-e-Islami also expressed their dismay over the judgment.

The JI demanded single-day general elections across the country.

Its MNA, Abdul Akbar Chitrali, highlighted the risk of a constitutional crisis.

He called on the government and the opposition to sit together and fix a date for elections.

In his remarks, Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari maintained that “indecency” in parliament began in 1988 and that the “culture of abuse” was the main reason for his disagreement with his party, the PTI.

The speaker reminded the lawmakers that rules did not allow chanting slogans or bringing posters in parliament and it should be avoided in the future.

Independent MNA Mohammad Aslam Bhootani expressed his concerns about the current situation in the superior judiciary, saying that it was not being viewed favourably.

He further pointed out that the formation of a six-member SC bench, which  “recalled” the interim order issued by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Aminuddin Khan wherein they had ordered the postponement of suo motu matters, undermined the status of the senior pusine judge.

He added that the dissolving of the assemblies of Punjab and K-P had created a constitutional crisis that led to political instability.

PPP MNA Naz Baloch also weighed in, saying that her party’s founder and former premier, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was subjected to “judicial murder” on April 4, and his killers were the ones who were mandated to deliver justice.

She also blamed PTI chief Imran Khan for the country’s economic problems and other crises.

Minister of State for Finance Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha expressed her concerns about the PTI government’s violations of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that had created an atmosphere of distrust.

She added that discussions were under way with friendly countries including China, Saudi Arabia, and UAE to meet external funding requirements.

The state minister noted that a staff-level agreement with the IMF would be signed soon once its conditions in connection with external funding were met.

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