LAHORE: The government again seemed helpless before the opposition which did not let Punjab Assembly proceedings run after Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani denied them the chance to speak on a point of order. The opposition hoped to express its utter dismay over the protection of corrupt elements by the government.
The house echoed with slogans of both the treasury and opposition MPAs who hurled accusations at each other’s party heads. This ultimately led to the opposition assembling in front of the deputy speaker’s chair to protest against his conduct for not allowing them to speak against the government.
The pandemonium rose to a fever pitch after leader opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, on a point of order, sought an explanation from Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif. Rasheed asked that the CM bring the house up to speed over the statement of his “front man” Faisal Subhan who confessed before the Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
He said the SECP, in writing, told the government that Faisal Subhan transferred Rs200 million to the account of a “dummy” company and later admitted that the Sharif family was the beneficiaries of these funds. He pointed out that irregularities worth billions of rupees had been unearthed on the Multan Metro Bus Service through his confessional statement.
Responding to the query, deputy speaker Gorchani said the subject of the metro bus service had been discussed on dozens of occasions on the house. To this, the opposition leader said this time around, Subhan’s confessional statement was the topic of debate.
He highlighted that Faisal had vanished and nobody knows where he has been over the last few months. He said the corruption in Multan Metro was nothing less than Panamagate for Shehbaz Sharif. He believed the Punjab government was protecting corrupt elements and LDA chief Cheema’s promotion was clear evidence.
The opposition leader-led leader assault of the government wreaked havoc in this house and both the opposition and the treasury started chanting slogans against each other. Meanwhile, opposition legislators Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal and Arif Abbasi stood up to speak on a point of order. Gorchani asked if there was a guarantee that they (Aslam and Arif) would sit calmly after raising their concern. Mian Aslam responded that it was their right to speak and questioned the conditions imposed on them. However, the deputy speaker did not allow them to speak.
The deputy speaker continued to call out the names of those legislators whose queries were included in the question-answer session. However, all the questions were disposed of due to the commotion in the provincial legislature. The queries of PML-N legislators Nighat Shaikh and Waheed Gul were left pending as both MPAs were present on the floor of the assembly, but could not put their questions forward to the chaotic situation. Gorchani quipped in and said it was impossible to run proceedings under such circumstances. As a result, the house was adjourned till 10am on Tuesday.
Proceedings started at 2:50pm despite a scheduled time of 2pm. There were questions on the agenda related to the Industries, Commerce and Investment and Forestry as well as the Wildlife and Fisheries departments. Two bills were also to be introduced, while annual reports on the parks and horticulture were to be laid down. The Punjab Charities Bill was also to be moved in the assembly.
On February 23, the opposition again pulled out its usual trump card by pointing to the lack of quorum in protest against the reaction of Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan who ignored their questions regarding a former LDA chief. The official was promoted despite being in NAB custody for his alleged involvement in a corruption scam worth billions.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2018.
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