A two-day break did nothing to calm down tempers of the members of the Punjab Assembly.
For the third consecutive session, the proceedings had to be adjourned after opposition and treasury members continued, on Friday, to hurl allegations and use abusive language against each other.
The session started with a two-hour delay with Speaker Rana Iqbal in the chair.
The House, that was supposed to discuss the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) issue on Friday, descended into chaos soon after the Question Hour, during which Law Minister Rana Sanaullah answered members’ questions about the Home Department.
The leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz, rising on a point of order, demanded that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif reveal the name of the “high-level personality in Islamabad” he had said was involved in a “conspiracy” against the Punjab. Riaz said that Sharif should get an FIR registered against the official concerned.
Riaz also demanded that Sanaullah apologise for his remarks against the opposition. He said, “The chief minister has successfully completed his journey from a Khadim-i-Aala to a Qatil-i-Aala.”
Riaz then demanded that the chief minister come to the House and take the members into confidence about the government handling of the PIC incident.
At this point the Speaker suspended the session for 10 minutes and summoned Raja Riaz to his chamber. Riaz later returned and announced that he had been assured that Shahbaz Sharif would come to the House on Monday.
The Speaker then asked PML-N’s Mehar Ishtiaq to chair the session. When proceedings resumed, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Zulfiqar Gondal pointed out that neither the chief minister not the health secretary or any officials of the Health Department were present in the House. Sanaullah assured him that every word of the debate would be conveyed to the chief minister.
Things got out of hand again when PML-Q’s Samina Khawar Hayat and Sheikh Alauddin of the Unification Bloc started hurling allegations and abuses at each other.
Hayat started this round by remarking that the “Qatil-i-Aala” was responsible for the PIC deaths. She criticised Shahbaz Sharif for “running the province on adhocism”. Alauddin rose and demanded that the chair stop Hayat from making personal attacks on the chief minister. Hayat responded by calling Alauddin a lota (turncoat), followed by some harsh words that resulted in harsher retaliation by Alauddin.
Nothing that was said was ordered expunged by the chair but the session was adjourned.
Sajida Mir of the PPP and Dr Ghazala of the PML-N later exchanged insults outside the House, in front of the media.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2012.