Pakistan budget heat boils over

Opposition lawmakers hijacked the Pakistani government’s unveiling of the new budget on Friday, trading punches during angry scuffles in parliament against power cuts and corruption.

By (AFP)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 3 Jun 2012, 12:06 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:23 PM

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was surrounded by 25 to 30 opposition parliamentarians who filled the space between his podium and the speaker’s dais, heckling and shouting through his speech, an AFP reporter said.

“End load shedding,” they cried. “This government is stealing electricity,” “the corrupt rulers should quit,” “let the poor live,” “respect the constitution” and “people want electricity, water and gas,” the people shouted.

Parliamentarians traded blows and slaps, as they pushed and shoved each other on the parliament floor, grabbing each other’s clothing.

Pakistan suffers from a massive energy crisis that cripples industry and leaves millions of people suffering during the hot summers and chilly winters.

The government is under mounting pressure to call early elections since Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was in April convicted of contempt of court for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against the president.

On Thursday, the finance minister was forced to announce that the economy had missed its target growth rate of 4.2 per cent to grow by only 3.7 per cent in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

On the same day, the rupee sank to its lowest level to 93.8350 against the dollar as Pakistan’s central bank was forced to deny it would have to return to the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, for assistance. The currency slid 0.9 per cent after The Wall Street Journal quoted the central bank governor as saying that failure to control the deficit could make it hard to meet the more than $4 billion in IMF loans due in the coming fiscal year.

More news from