Minister tells PA import of tomatoes is a no-go

Opposition and treasury trade accusations over reported ties with India

Rana Yasif October 24, 2017

LAHORE: The legislators of both treasury and opposition benches remained at loggerheads in the Punjab Assembly over the other’s alleged relations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The debate kicked off when PML-N Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment Sheikh Allauddin made it clear that Pakistan would neither carry out the vegetable-trade with India nor allow the import of tomatoes for the benefit of a specific mafia.

Not importing tomatoes from India 'good decision' 

The opposition benches strongly opposed the impression given by the minister that they were asking for permission to import tomatoes from the neighbouring country.

Both the benches seemed to be trying to establish the other’s ties with the Indian prime minster. Allauddin stressed the government would not allow any sort of mafia to earn a profit in the garb of tomato imports.

“What is the fault of our farmers? He said the price of chicken in Punjab was Rs155, while the same was Rs280 in K-P,” he stressed. The minister urged the opposition to monitor rates in the northern province.

After tomatoes, onion rates hit new heights

Refuting the impression, Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal of the PTI pointed out that no member of the house demanded the import of vegetables from India. He added the government should not put the onus of wrong policies on the shoulders of the opposition. He said the rulers were desperate to “hug Modi”.

Meanwhile, legislators of the treasury benches started criticising PTI MPAs. PML-N’s legislator Dr Farzana Nazir said the Imran Khan-led party had been called “Indian actors” who were raising funds for a hospital. To this, Aslam Iqbal replied it was actually PML-N who had called Modi to the house to raise funds.

During the question-answer session, the remarks of Minister for Zakat and Ushr Naghma Mushtaq brought a chuckle to some legislators. This irked the minister who said she would not reply to any more questions.

Replying to the question of another mover, she said the questions were confusing and she did not want to “cram her answers”.  The minister added that even ministers were human beings and could get confused at times.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal referred a question to the committee concerned and asked for a report in a month. This was after PML-N legislator Mian Tariq Mehmood was not satisfied over the answer provided by Minister of Irrigation Amantullah Shadi Khel.

When house proceedings were in progress and the focus was on “call attention notices”, a legislator of the opposition benches pointed to the lack of quorum. Subsequently, the bells were rung for five minutes. Finally, the speaker adjourned the house till 10am on Tuesday after the government failed to show the required number of legislators.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2017.


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