The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government left the opposition’s proposed amendments to the K-P University (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 unattended as deputy speaker prorogued the session for an indefinite period on Friday.
The amendment bill was on the agenda for Friday, however, it contained amendments in 11 clauses, affecting 24 sections. This would have become part of the law as opposition members were in majority and some government members also buttressed the proposed amendments. However, the bill could not be passed as the session was prorogued owing to an incomplete quorum. The proposed amendments are to be re-submitted by the opposition and some government members.
There were already fewer government members than normal and when the house took up the agenda after completing the question-answer session, those who were present at the sitting started to slip away one by one. The members who were leaving the house were asking other colleagues of the treasury benches to leave the sitting too so the quorum could become incomplete and Deputy Speaker Dr Mehar Taj Roghani could wind up the sitting.
The lawmakers, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Shaukat Yousafzai, repeatedly pointed at the incomplete quorum.
Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak objected to the attitude of the treasury and lashed out at government members for deliberately avoiding house proceedings to hinder the opposition’s amendment bill.
In a fiery speech, Babak said, “This shows the dishonesty of the government because its members are leaving the house and asking their friends to leave too.” He added opposition and treasury members have brought amendments in the supreme interest of the province and its public but government members are slipping out one by one and asking others to leave too so amendments could not be made part of the law. “The government leaders claim they are not hiding anything but this attitude portrays the exact opposite,” he said.
Babak also expressed surprise at praise showered by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) when it stated K-P was a number one province in terms of governance. “K-P is not number one – it is going in minus digits in terms of governance,” he said.
While Yousafzai was pointing at the incomplete quorum, opposition members shouted “Shame Shame” at him for being a government member and indulging in such behaviour.
Clarification and castigation
Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman while replying to Babak said, “Universities amendment bill will be placed for detailed discussion and the government will not bulldoze it on any mala fide intentions.”
He added PILDAT and other similar bodies examine all aspects of governments before making their reports. “If Babak has any objections over it, he should choose an organisation to check the government’s performance,” he said. The government wanted to make legislation rather than depend on ordinances which are issued temporarily to keep the government running, said Farman.
Since the quorum was incomplete, the deputy speaker had to wind up and prorogue the session on the directives issued by the governor. The opposition members were angry and the hall echoed with their slogans like “Maar maar, chuhay maar” or “Kill the rats”, directed at government members. JUI-F lawmaker Fakhar Azam threw copies of the agenda at the treasury benches.
Earlier, during the question-answer session, JUI-F lawmaker Najma Shaheen questioned the lack of health facilities in prisons which was handed over to a special committee to be constituted specifically for the purpose of improving facilities there.
Adviser to CM on Prisons Malik Qasim Khan Khattak told the house, “Every jail has its own hospital and dispensary and when needed, patients in serious conditions are taken to other hospitals. We have problems of over population but we are holding a conference to resolve the issue soon.”
He assured full support to Shaheen and promised to address all her queries.
At the 16th session of the government’s assembly, JUI-F Mufti Fazal Ghafoor probed into Annual Development Programme 2013-14 which was approved for a full day’s discussion upon request of the opposition.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2016.
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