ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties held a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday to announce they “completely reject” the federal government’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and to demand that Prime Minister Imran Khan step down. “The opposition leaders have unanimously declined and rejected the budget and will take all measures possible to protest against it,” said PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “We were expecting that the government would provide some sort of relief at a time of crisis, but to the contrary, the government has increased the burden on the public,” said the PPP chairman. The government has imposed a tax on petrol, before the passing of the budget, which is even more than the rate of petrol itself, Bilawal said. “There has been an absolute failure on the government’s part to secure our lives and protect our health,” he added. The PPP chairman said that the entire opposition, meanwhile, had “played a responsible role” in combating the coronavirus. “PML-N, PPP, every party, has the leadership to fight the pandemic,” he said, adding: “PTI lacks the leadership to fight it.” He said the current crisis can be dealt with “by listening to international organisations’ recommendations”. It is worthy to note that the World Health Organisation, in a letter to the four provinces, has recommended that the country impose intermittent two-week lockdowns. Speaking of PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, who has contracted the virus and is in isolation, Bilawal said: “Shehbaz Sharif is making the prime minister sweat even while he is ill.” He said that Shehbaz is “in touch with all parties” despite his illness. Bilawal went on to say that when the PML-N president recovers, an All-Parties Conference will be announced. “It will be difficult to hold general elections during the epidemic,” he acknowledged. “Political parties must work together to find a democratic solution.” PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif, while addressing the briefing, said Imran Khan’s rule “is leading us to destruction”. “Imran Khan has become a national burden,” Asif said, adding: “The way the government’s allies are breaking the coalition with the PTI-led governnment is an indication that government is on it’s last legs.” “It is only with his removal that Pakistan can be saved.” He said the opposition will formulate a joint strategy in this regard. “Government institutions are being used to target the opposition,” said Asif. “It is now their turn to be held accountable.” The PML-N leader said that the opposition will “take every constitutional path possible to change the government”. “The country needs a new mandate now,” Asif said. “The new mandate is the only way out of the current problems.” Meanwhile, JUI-F member Akram Khan Durrani, said that the incumbent government’s “attitude towards the opposition” is plain for everyone to see. He said that “cries of bewilderment” can be heard everywhere over the government’s policies. Condemning the treatment meted out to Jang Geo Media Group chief editor Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, he said: “No case has been registered against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who has been arrested for several months now.” Jamaat-e-Islami’s Mian Aslam also addressed the briefing, slamming the government’s budget proposal. “The budget is a blur of words,” said Aslam. “Imran Khan government has presented the worst budget.” “The government was already headed for failure before the budget; it has completely failed now,” Aslam said.
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