LAHORE: The Provincial Assembly (PA) passed two resolutions on Tuesday, a private members’ day.
Resolutions calling for more stringent action against the sale of adulterated milk and the introduction of effective measures to promote vocational training among women were passed on the occasion. The opposition, however, was denied permission to table out-of-turn a resolution eulogising security forces for nabbing suspected RAW agent Kulbushan Jadhav in Balochistan. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal’s repeated denial of permission to PTI’s Asif Mehmood prompted Leader of the Opposition Mehmoodur Rasheed to seek suspension of rules to allow the resolution to be considered without further ado.
A majority of the resolutions on the day’s agenda were kept pending by the Chair. The two passed were only cleared following the introduction of amendments agreeable to the Treasury benches. PTI’s Muhammad Sibtain Khan’s resolution on adulterated milk was passed after Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Nazar Hussain Gondal proposed an amendment calling for “stricter” action. Khan was irked by the amendment and sought information regarding measures already in place. The amended resolution was then unanimously passed despite the lack of a reply to the PTI MPA’s query. A similar situation was witnessed during the passage of PML-N MPA Hina Butt’s vocational training resolution. Gondal proposed amending it to include “improved” measures. The opposition mocked the proposed amendment by striking their desks. The amended resolution, however, was passed.
Another of Butt’s resolutions on the mandatory provision of women doctors and technicians for women patients to conduct ECGs and ultrasounds stoked a debate with even some Treasury members opposing it. The PML-N’s Sheikh Alauddin questioned its purpose saying that there was already a paucity of practicing women medical professionals. “By doing so, we will exacerbate the situation. We should speak responsibly here while remaining cognisant of ground realities,” he said. Parliamentary Secretary for Health Khwaja Imran Nazeer said there was no gender-based distinction in keeping with present codes of conduct enshrined across health facilities. He sought time to allow further deliberation which was granted.
A resolution calling for the Nishan-i-Pakistan to be conferred on executed Bangladeshi JI leaders Abdul Quader Molla and Muahmmad Kamaruzzaman was kept pending for the second time due to the lack of a response from the FO. Gondal’s reply to that effect left Alauddin visibly agitated.
Ahmed Khan Bhachar’s resolution calling for provision of missing facilities across Basic Health Units (BHUs) and Rural Health Centres was kept pending after the concerned parliamentary secretary sought time to respond to it. An indomitable Bhachar expressed reservations over the government’s failure to acknowledge the lack of facilities across BHUs.
Lawmakers also grilled Nazeer after he acknowledged that a spike in the number of hepatitis patients being admitted across health facilities had been witnessed. He said the government had been striving to introduce preventive measures on this account. Nazeer said this including raising public awareness and strengthening monitoring by the Health Commission.
A dejected Sardar Shahabuddin expressed reservations over the availability of hepatitis vaccines across south Punjab. Allegations of financial malpractice were levelled against the Health Department by PML-N MPA Amjad Ali Javaid in connection with doctors’ recruitment. Javaid also brought to attention the case of a Toba Tek Singh DHQ Hospital ward that has remained inoperative for over 16 years due to poor construction. Nazeer vehemently rejected the allegations but confessed that the case had been looked into. Iqbal asked for a report on the matter.
The PA also welcomed MPA Kanwal Nauman on her return to the House. Kanwal, a noted actor, had suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier in the year. Lawmakers struck their desks to mark her return to the PA following the passage of nearly two months.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.