Loud and unequivocal: Lawmakers at loggerheads over money-laundering issue

Shout slogans against each other in Punjab Assembly session

Rana Yasif February 28, 2018
Lawmakers at loggerheads over money-laundering issue PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: It is for the third time in a period less than a week when the government seemed helpless before the opposition whose legislators did not let the Punjab Assembly proceedings run over the transfer of Rs2 billion in the account of a fake company to benefit Sharif family.

The pandemonium rose when legislators of both treasury and opposition benches were at loggerheads at a point when the opposition leader asked where had Faisal Subhani vanished without leaving a trace and why the government failed to tack him. Responding the query, PML-N chief whip Rana Arshad remarked that PTI abducted Subhani and Rao Anwar.

Speaking on a point of order, Opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said the government did not give its response over the confessional statement Subhani gave in China. He quoted Subhani, who in his confessional statement, admitted that Rs2 billion were transferred while over Rs1 billion was yet to be transferred to the account of fake company. “Where is Subhani? It is a matter of billions and it was blamed on the CM. Why the CM is not coming here? He should come here to update the House,” he said.

PML-N chief whip Rana Arshad said those who belonged to PTI were corrupt and that was why they had abducted Faisal Subhani and Rao Anwar to politicise the matter. This led to uproar in the House and the legislators continued chanting slogans against each other. The pandemonium in the House forced Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani to adjourn the House proceedings. However, he adjourned the House for Wednesday (today) 10:00am.

The House started at 10:40, after 40 minutes’ delay. When Deputy Speaker Gorchani was reading the agenda item of the House, a minority MPA Shunila Ruth condemned the conduct of FIA officials who forced one Sajid Masih to engage in physical intimacy with the main suspect of alleged blasphemy Pitras Masih.

“It is a shameful act on part of an institution,” Ruth remarked. Gorchani directed her not to use words and statements which target institutions as the legislator’s information was based on only piece of a news item. “It is not the way to talk about institutions,” Gorchani reprimanded the legislator. Ruth demanded that a joint investigation team be constituted to probe the matter. She said the accused were taken on the fourth floor of a building, tortured and then thrown down.

Responding to Ruth, Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Khalil Tahir Sindhu assured the House that he would submit a report regarding the medical report of accused.

In question-answer session, Minister for Excise and Taxation Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, responding to a question revealed that the government was setting up police stations for excise in four divisions out of total nine divisions to rein in the menace of narcotics. He said the police stations would be set up before June 2018.

Shahzad Munshi, a PML-N legislator from minorities, complained the deputy speaker over the attendance issue. Munshi said action be taken against those legislators who mark their attendance but do not attend the House proceedings. He, however, said those who could not reach the assembly owing to traffic jams or protests, should be accommodated in attendance because sometimes the House was adjourned owing to lack of quorum. However, the deputy speaker did not entertain the request.

After the corruption scandals of Ahad Khan Cheema and Faisal Subhani, the legislators again were at loggerheads over the issue of sugarcane. The opposition legislators lashed out at the government for not taking “sincere steps” for the farmers whose sugarcane crop was still being purchased by mill owners on rate lower than Rs180 per 40 kilogrammes. Treasury benches denied the allegation. However, the deputy speaker fixed Monday for a debate over the issue adding the minister concerned and secretaries would be present in the House to answer queries of legislators.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2018.


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