ISLAMABAD: The issue of Kartarpur Corridor echoed in the National Assem­bly on Monday as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) opposed the government’s initiative while it was fully backed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

On the other hand, the government could not defend its decision to open the corridor before the house was adjourned till Thursday due to lack of quorum pointed out by one of the lawmakers of the PPP.

The issues of unprecedented price hike in the country and swarms of locusts in Sindh and Punjab provinces were also discussed in the lower house of parliament.

Former foreign minister and PML-N stalwart Khurram Dastagir, while speaking on the Kartarpur Corridor, said that the government should not take unilateral peace initiatives with India because whenever Pakistan did so, India responded negatively.

“We have a bitter experience of Kartarpur initiative because Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken unilateral peace initiatives with India which remained counter-productive,” he said, adding: “Unila­teral decisions never become successful.”

Price hike and swarms of locusts also discussed in house

He said that in November last year, the prime minister laid the foundation stone of the corridor project, but in Feb­ruary this year India conducted an airstrike when after 48 years Indian jets attacked Balakot.

Mr Dastagir criticised the government, saying that despite hostile responses by India, including its decision to change the status of held Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan extended an olive branch to India.

“Opening of Kartarpur Corridor is an indication that the government has silently accepted the decision of India on held Kashmir,” he added.

Former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, however, categorically endorsed the government’s decision to open the corridor for Sikh pilgrims coming from all over the world to Pakistan. “We fully endorse and appreciate the decision of the government,” he added.

“That is the philosophy of Benazir Bhutto who was an advocate of free borders,” the PPP leader maintained.

He, however, said Pakistan always tried to restore peace in the region, but India always showed negative attitude.

On the criticism by Khurram Dastagir, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari stood up and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who was presiding over the session at that time, gave the floor to her to speak.

But Shahida Rehmani of the PPP pointed out the lack of quorum and the session was adjourned till Thursday evening.

Swarms of locusts

The lower house of parliament was briefed on the attacks of locusts that had destroyed standing crops worth billions of rupees in Sindh and Punjab. The house was informed that the swarms were now heading towards Balochistan.

PPP leader Nawab Yousuaf Talpur blamed the federal government for not taking emergency steps to kill locusts through pesticide sprays and other ways. “The swarms of locusts which have entered Karachi should have been controlled at the Indian border from where they came,” he added.

Rao Mohammad Ajmal Khan of the PML-N said that as a result of the locusts attack, vegetable crops have destroyed and the prices of vegetables have gone beyond the reach of the common man. He said that after attacking Balochistan, the swarms of locusts will move to Iran.

Price hike

A member from treasury benches, Noor Alam, once again raised the issue of unprecedented price hike and urged the government to take necessary steps to provide relief to people.

“Some friends of my party [PTI] have accused me of not raising my voice against the price hike when I was a member of the PPP. Today I want to say on the floor of the house that I had always raised this issue during my association with the PPP,” he added.

Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker a tribal district, asked the government to solve the problems confronting the tribal people.

Speaker Asad Qaisar ordered forming a committee to take into the matter.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2019

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