PML-N’s myopic thinking on Benazir Income Support Program – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

PML-N just doesn’t know what it wants to do. There are such huge contradictions in their speech and acts. They say one thing and do the complete opposite. We have time and again raised matters of their contradictions. I won’t go into details. Let Us Build Pakistan blog covers their acts regularly. What was most startling to read in today’s newspapers was the opposition by PML-N while discussing the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) Bill 2009 in the National Assembly on June 28, 2010. The opposition was simply on the name and not the content or clauses of the Bill. PML-N MNA, Zahid Hamid proposed the amendment to the bill that the program maybe called “Qaumi Income Support Programme” than Benazir Income Support Program. He went on to add

“We have greater respect and admiration for Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who had served twice as prime minister and sacrificed her life for democracy. But her legacy should be carried as good governance and be reflected in government’s policies and actions, not by naming hospitals or programmes after her name,”

This led to furor in the house with “Shame, Shame” being chanted against the PML-N members. PML-Q member Donya Aziz said that if the PML-N has such a big problem with the name, they can change it when they come into power. PPP’s Akhundzada Chitan termed the PML-N to be a creation of the dictators and we can’t remain any more patient with them on their attitude.

It was only after the PM spoke and pacified the ruling party MPs explaining the benefits of the BISP that PML-N withdrew their proposed amendment.

It is sad to see the way PML-N thinks and acts. On one hand they want to repeat their commitment of honoring Charter of Democracy and on the other show their petty interests. Benazir’s name haunts them and their creators like anything.

PML-N has a history of changing names of projects started by PPP governments. In 1990, when the free to air TV was deregulated in Pakistan, Peoples Television Network was launched which was quickly renamed to Shalimar Television Network within weeks of the removal the first Benazir government. The development schemes under the Peoples Work Program were renamed Public Works Program. Peoples Football Stadium in Lyari was being renamed too but fearing out lash from the people of Lyari, the name wasn’t changed.

On the other hand, a random search on google gives us the following names: Nawaz Sharif Park on Ferozpur Road, Lahore; Nawaz Sharif Park along Rawal Road, Rawalpindi; Nawaz Sharif Park in Gujrat; Nawaz Sharif Social Security Hospital Lahore. Mian Nawaz Sharif is alive and living and may Allah give him a long life, but isn’t the PML-N playing living idol politics itself?

It also important to note that when the BISP was launched, each MNA and Senator was given 8000 forms for distribution amongst constituents equally. There was no prejudice that it will only be given to those subscribing to PPP thoughts or supporting the PPP. Why did the PML-N accept the forms, distribute amongst their constituents, attest their veracity and submit them to the BISP?

As they say “Meetha, Meetha hup hup!”.

To read the BISP Bill 2009, please click here.

Jang report on BISP discussion

PPP, PML-N clash in NA over BISP naming

 Tuesday, June 29, 2010

 By Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly passed Benazir Income Support Programme bill on Monday unanimously but not before the PML-N objected to naming it after the slain PPP leader and later withdrawing the objection.

The PML-N first moved the amendment to the bill seeking to rename it as the Qaumi Income Support Programme but later withdrew it in the face of severe reaction from the PPP legislators, prompting Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to intervene whereupon the PML-N withdrew the amendment. The bill, moved by Minister of State for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Mehreen Anwar Raja, will now go to the Senate for approval.

The government received unexpected support from the PML-Q, which saw no harm in naming the programme as Benazir Income Support Programme. Its legislator Dr Doniya Aziz opposed the amendment moved by the PML-N, saying there is no harm in naming a programme after Benazir Bhutto, who was twice elected as the country’s prime minister. “The PML-N can rename the programme when it comes to power,” she said.

The fuss was created when the PPP legislator from Fata Akhunzada Chattan stood up just after the PML-N legislator Zahid Hamid had moved the amendment and started chanting the slogan of ‘long live Benazir Bhutto’. Many PPP legislators joined him.

Minister for Labour and Manpower Khursheed Shah, who is also chief whip of the treasury benches and Minister of State for Interior Tasneem Qureshi, rushed towards Akhunzada Chattan to calm him.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani intervened and persuaded the PML-N to withdraw its amendment. “The programme has been running successfully for the last two years and is being appreciated not only nationally but also internationally,” he said while addressing the National Assembly.

He said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto sacrificed her life for democracy, restoration of the Constitution, freedom of the media and rights of the people. The prime minister said the world over good work done by the national leaders is remembered in good words and this should happen in Pakistan also. “This programme was initiated by the PPP so it is our right to name it,” he said.

The prime minister said this programme was in operation for the last two years and no body objected to it. Every parliamentarian has been involved in this programme. “Many people complained to me that their opponents were also getting the benefits of this programme but I always told them it was our success,” he added.

The prime minister said it was Benazir Bhutto’s idea to launch this programme and it was part of our manifesto. “In my first address to the National Assembly, I mentioned this programme,” he said.

Later, Zahid Hamid withdrew the amendment. Earlier, speaking on the amendment, Zahid Hamid said it is a national programme therefore it should be given a national look. Another PML-N legislator Tahira Aurangzeb was all praise for Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, saying that she was a national leader. At the same time, she proposed that this programme should be renamed as the Qaumi Income Support Programme.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mehreen Anwar Raja tabled eight ordinances in the lower house. They are the Benazir Income Support Programme, the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment), the Arbitration (International Investment Disputes), the Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding (Amendment), the Recognition and Enforcement (Arbitration Agreements and Foreign Arbitral Awards), the women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment), the Islamabad Consumers Protection (Amendment), and the Central Law Officers (Amendment) Ordinance.



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