NAB chief’s statement stirs uproar in PA

PTI says all Punjab institutions must provide records to accountability watchdog


Rana Yasif February 10, 2018
Punjab assembly. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Though the agenda of the house was not complete, Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan adjourned the session early, claiming that all items had been taken up. This happened after legislators of both the treasury and opposition benches were at loggerheads over the National Accountability Bureau chairman’s statement on the failure of several Punjab institutes to cooperate in different cases.

There was pandemonium between legislators of both benches after Opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed assured full support to NAB. At the same time, PML-N legislator Muhammad Waheed Gull delivered a fiery speech and said the bureau was hearing a case against PTI and called Rasheed’s statement an effort to gain sympathy.

Either mistakenly or to avoid further uproar in the house, the speaker said the agenda for the day had been completed and adjourned the session till 2pm on Monday. This is despite the fact a minister was set to introduce The University of Silakot Bill 2018 and The University of Narowal Bill 2018.

The minister was also to present the annual activity report of the Parks and Horticulture Authority of Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Lahore, Bahawalpur and Rawalpindi for the year 2015-16.

Rasheed, on a point of order, requested the speaker to take his adjournment motion out of turn and sought further debate over the NAB chairman’s statement on the failure of different institutions to cooperate in corruption cases. He elaborated that the NAB chairman had claimed that the bureaucracy of Punjab was not cooperating with it in the process of accountability. This was despite the bureau having written to each department four times to seek records of different cases. He asked for his adjournment motion to be read out of turn.

The speaker, responding to Rasheed, said the law minister was absent from the house and asked who would reply to the motion. Rasheed said if the NAB chairman’s statement was false, the government should respond to it.

Finally, the speaker allowed him to read the adjournment motion, but said he would stop the opposition leader if any names were taken in it. After giving his assurance, Rasheed read the adjournment motion.  “According to a news item, the NAB chairman, talking about different cases, said a faithful of the king will be made accountable. He said $84 billion was looted and the department’s non-cooperation would not be tolerated.”

The speaker said the adjournment motion would be treated according to the prescribed rules and he urged the opposition leader to wait for a reply. The latter responded by saying that 90% of adjournment motions were never replied to or there was no action/implementation. The opposition leader said he would not tolerate the failure of various institutions to provide records of corruption cases.

Meanwhile, PTI’s Asif Mehmood also protested when he was not allowed to read his privilege motion. The MPA stated that he read eight adjournment motions in 2017, but was not given any answer for any one of them. However, the speaker assured that the matter would be discussed during a meeting of the advisory committee.

Commotion became the order of the day when PML-N legislator Muhammad Waheed Gull said PTI’s support of NAB was an effort to gain sympathy as the latter party’s case was being heard by the accountability watchdog. Opposition leader Rasheed said PTI would continue backing the bureau until corruption was uprooted. The legislators started chanting slogans against each other party’s leaders.  After that, the speaker adjourned the House will 2pm on Monday, despite the agenda not being completed.

During the question-answer session, MPAs expressed their dismay over the lack of government steps to provide medical and education facilities to special children as well as the failure to recruit against vacant seats in special education institutions and doctors in hospitals. However, Parliamentary Secretary for Healthcare and Medical Education Hassaan Riaz assured recruitments were being done in hospitals. Minister for Special Education Muhammad Shafique said teachers were being recruited for some schools dealing with special education.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2018.

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