The Orange Line Metro Train project made its way to the Provincial Assembly once again on Tuesday. Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, the leader of the Opposition, lashed out at the chief minister and the law minister for not taking the House into confidence about the Rs165 billion project.
The issue was raised on a point of order. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who had been absent at the time, engaged in a war of words with Rasheed when he returned to the House.
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A charged Opposition chanted slogans against the government as well as the speaker, Rana Muhammad Iqbal, for not allowing them to voice their concerns about the project. Treasury members responded by shouting slogans of their own. Despite several attempts, the speaker was unable to bring order to the House.
Rasheed criticised the ministers for ignoring the House. “First, it was just the chief minister who used to be absent from the proceedings. Now, the law minister too is following his example,” he said.
Rasheed said that the law minister had been absent on Monday as well. He demanded that the CM inform the House about the terms of the loan obtained from China for the train project.
Minister for Mines and Minerals Sher Ali Khan defended the government. He accused the Opposition of running away from a discussion on the project earlier.
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The law minister arrived at this point and invited the Opposition to set a date for debating the project. “The government is willing to address all questions of the Opposition on the project. We will prove that it will bring an end to their politics,” said Sanaullah.
The harsh remarks exchanged between the leader of the Opposition and the law minister were expunged by the speaker. Led by Rasheed, 20 opposition lawmakers then made their way to the speaker and chanted slogans. Copies of the day’s agenda were also torn.
The speaker kept with the agenda.
Of the seven resolutions to be taken up during the proceedings, two were passed. The rest were disposed of. One was kept pending.
Hina Pervez Butt’s resolution tabled earlier pertaining to deployment of female staff for taking women’s pictures at NADRA and passport offices and Ramesh Singh Arora’s resolution pertaining to issuance of postage stamps on the 547th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji were passed by the House.
Later, addressing a press conference in front of the assembly chamber, Rasheed warned that if a discussion on the Orange Line was not held in the next few days, the united opposition would intensify its protests. “The Opposition will take part in the debate even if the CM does not show up,” he said. He also criticised the law minister for his remarks.
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Khurram Jehangir Wattoo demanded that the government must take steps to address the concerns of farmers affected by the project.
Talking to the media, Sanaullah said that the metro train was a public welfare project. He said the government was determined to defend it in the House.
The session will continue on Wednesday morning.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2016.