LAHORE: The opposition-treasury tussle brought the business of Punjab Assembly to a grinding halt on Thursday. The session was adjourned owing to lack of quorum in a similar way the treasury benches did the other day when the opposition was about to get the Punjab Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill 2017 passed with the support of treasury legislators.
Two bills — ie the Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill 2018 and the Registration (Punjab Amendment) Bill 2018 — were on Thursday’s agenda. A general discussion on food was also made part of the agenda items of the assembly following a strong protest of opposition on April 30 against the ‘flawed’ wheat policy of the government.
On a point of order, Opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed suggested a proposal to Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan to take up the Punjab Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill 2017 out of turn, but the speaker turned down the suggestion saying the matter would be taken up on Tuesday.
Rasheed said it happened for the first time when a treasury legislator pointed out the quorum and owing to the reluctance of the government, the House proceedings could not be run. The speaker responded to the opposition leader that should he punish the MPA who pointed out quorum the other day.
Later, PTI’s Asif Mehmood pointed out the quorum which forced the speaker to adjourn the House for Friday 9:00 am as the government could not show up the required number of its legislators.
During the House proceedings, the PTI leader had also expressed his gloom over a matter related to the illegal commercialisation in Airport Housing Society, Rawalpindi.
He said around 11 meetings have been held pertaining to the issue ever since the matter was referred to the standing committee a year ago but all in vain. Inviting the ire of the speaker, Asif remarked that Punjab Assembly Secretary Rai Mumtaz Hussain Babar was creating hurdles in the resolution of the matter and he had submitted a privilege motion against Hussain. An argument ensued when the speaker asked Asif to sit down. PTI‘s Mian Aslam Iqbal tried to pacify the situation and requested the speaker that the matter be discussed in assembly so that the legislators could save their face in their respective constituencies.
On a point of order, Asif Mehmood raised his concern over the provision of security to Jugnu Mohsin (wife of PCB chairman Najam Sethi) despite the orders of the Supreme Court on VIP security withdrawal. The speaker said the matter did not relate to him, on which the legislators started beating desks and shouted ‘shame shame’.
On Thursday the House proceedings started on 11:24 am while the scheduled time was of 10:00 am. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal pended all the questions relating to agriculture department as neither the minister nor the parliamentary secretary were present in the House. It is the fourth time when Parliamentary Secretary Revenue Nazia Raheel could not turn up to respond to the questions of the legislators.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2018.
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