LAHORE: Opposition leaders first thanked the treasury benches for voting in their winning candidate Senate candidate, Chaudhary Sarwar, but at the same time demanded that the speaker take note of how Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) grabbed 26 votes, despite their legislators being just eight in number at the Punjab Assembly.
Two legislators, Dr Murad Rass and Shoaib Siddiqi, stood up on a point of order, but Rass spoke first and thanked all those PML-N legislators who voted for Chaudhry Sarwar. It was perhaps his way of taking a jab at the ruling party. However, he lauded the “fair senate election procedure” and congratulated those who grabbed senate seats.
The legislators from both the treasury and opposition benches wore a wry smile on their face when Rass especially thanked those PMLN legislators who voted for PTI. Meanwhile, the speaker congratulated all those who won. Subsequently, PML-N legislator Abu Hafs Muhammad Ghiyasuddin expelled the notion that PML-N voted for the opposition.
PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqi congratulated Sarwar on becoming a senator for PTI, but in almost the same breath questioned PML-N legislators. He pointed out that there were only eight members from PPP so from where did they obtain 26 votes. The speaker asked how PTI grabbed 44 votes to which Siddiqi offered his help to count the votes. The PTI leader reiterated his concern, over what he felt, was an extraordinarily large number of votes for PPP.
He said that PML-N legislators followed their “corrupt leaders and voted for other parties”. He demanded the speaker to take note of the voting pattern, but the speaker paid no heed to his request.
Also, a 20-minute adjournment by the speaker lasted 93 minutes. This ultimately forced the speaker to adjourn the house till 10am on Tuesday after the government could not show the required number of legislators after PTI Dr Murad Rass pointed to the lack of quorum. The house proceedings started at 2:48pm despite a scheduled of 2pm. After eight minute of Tilawat and Naat, the question-answer session started. The session hardly ran for just 9 minutes and there were 14 questions on the agenda, but only one was taken up. The rest could not be taken up as Nazia Raheel, the parliamentary secretary for Revenue, was not available in the house to respond.
At 3:05, the agenda was repeated by the speaker as some movers were not present in the House. At the same time, those who were present could ask their questions as the parliamentary secretary concerned was absent. At 3:25pm, PTI legislator Dr Murad Rass pointed to the lack of quorum. First, the bells were rung for five minutes and the house was later adjourned at 3:30pm for 20 minutes. After that, at 5:03pm, the processes of counting legislators got under way, but the government failed to show the required number.
A question that was taken up was of PMLN’s minority MPA Shahzad Munshi who raised an objection over mentioning the word ‘Esaai’ in the department’s answer rather referring to Christians as ‘Masih’. He said there was a law which clearly stated Christians should be mentioned as ‘Masih’ and not ‘Esaai’.
However, in the answer given by the department, there word mentioned ‘Esaai’ was mentioned three times, which Munshi said was regrettable. He said referring to them as ‘Essai’ and ‘Masih’ was tantamount to dividing them into two communities. However, Ch Zahid Akram, parliamentary secretary for colonies, said it was mistakenly mentioned. The speaker ordered a correction.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2018.