LAHORE: Fateha was offered by the house during the Punjab Assembly session on Wednesday for former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who was shot dead by his guard in the capital last year.
PPP’s parliamentary leader Maj (retired) Zulfiqar Gondal speaking on a point of order lauded his services for the party and the people. Gondal appreciated Taseer’s work for humanity, saying he (Taseer) was a courageous person who had carried on the enlightened policy of the party, and boldly raised the flag for minorities’ rights in Pakistan. He also talked about the services of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, adding that both her and Taseer’s families had faced tremendous tragedies in the defence of democracy. He demanded that the provincial and federal governments work jointly for the recovery of Taseer’s son, Shahbaz Taseer, who was kidnapped from Lahore in August, 2011.
The session resumed at 11.10am, an hour after its scheduled time.
Motions on University Bill
Despite two attempts by opposition to stop the treasury benches from legislation, the house on Wednesday passed eight bills including the bill for the establishment of a university in Dera Ghazi Khan.
Besides passage of the bills, the law and order situation in Punjab was also discussed with both treasury and opposition members quoting alarming figures. It was during this debate that the session was adjourned till Thursday morning (today). The Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan Bill, 2011 was passed after a detailed discussion over various clauses. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan congratulated the house and said it had been demanded by the people of South Punjab since a long time.
The opposition moved a total of 19 amendments to the bill. Out of these, eight were defeated. The rest were later withdrawn after consultation with the officials of the Higher Education Department.
PML-Q member Mohsin Leghari moved most of the amendments in the bill. He later told The Express Tribune that his motions aimed at removing the loopholes in the bill.
Two of his motions, first demanding circulation of the bill in the house before its approval and the second about referring it to the select committee, were defeated. On a point of order, Leghari said the DG Khan Medical College had yet to be approved by Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. He demanded its approval by the council on priority basis.
Leghari, in his third motion, said that the standards set for the employees should be defined. He suggested incorporating a sub-clause in the relevant clause in the bill. He also urged that officers, teachers and other employees of a university retire after completing 25 years and qualifying for pension and other retirement benefits. Responding to the motions, Sanaullah said that if the amendments were approved, the purpose of awarding autonomy to the university would be lost.
PML-Q MPA Seemal Kamran said that none of the university employees should be demoted or terminated without serving him a show cause notice. Sanaullah responded that the PEEDA Act was also applicable to university employees. He said that the PEEDA Act had comprehensive provisions in this regard.
Kamran moved that pension, insurance, gratuity, provident and benevolent funds shall be constituted. She said since the university was located in a remote area, faculty should be given special pay packages. To this Sanaullah said that it was a matter for internal legislation.
The opposition then demanded for the disciplinary committee to be mentioned in one of the clauses (18), which deals with of the university powers. Sanaullah said that sub-clause 2 of clause 18 stated that the syndicate may constitute committees consisting of the members of the syndicate and may create committees consisting of members and teachers or officers of the university. He told the house that disciplinary committee covered in the functions of the syndicate committees.
Seemal Kamran’s motion demanding a minimum of three elected members in the syndicate committee, of which one should be a woman, was withdrawn after consultation with the speaker and the leader of the opposition.
Sanaullah said that the law and order situation in the province was a result of energy crisis. He said, however, despite the problems, the law enforcement agencies had controlled crime rate in the province. He said since March 2011, no incident of terrorism had occurred in Punjab.
PML-Q Chaudhry Zaheeruddin Khan demanded that the police’s attitude towards people change, while PPP Ehsanul Haq Naulatia urged the chief minister to abandon his autocratic ways.
Later, Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman answered questions regarding his department.
Raja Riaz’s media talks
“It was because of Salmaan Taseer’s courage that minorities support the PPP. They believe that the party would protect their rights,” PPP leader Raja Riaz Ahmed said.
Riaz, who was talking to media after the assembly session, lashed out at the Sharif brothers for their decision to quit the coalition government, the removal of PPP ministers from the Punjab government and their move over the Memogate scandal. He said the chief minister was controlled by “power corridors,” and that his one man show was about to end.
To a question as to why no event was held at the Governor’s House to pay tribute to Taseer, Riaz said, “The governor is the best person to reply to that.” However, he said, an event should have been held.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.