The Punjab Assembly, in no uncertain terms, told the bureaucracy of the province to the presence of its officials during the question-hour session and for other business related to its departments.
The order was passed by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi after PML-N’s Samiullah Khan, on a point of order, drew his attention to the matter. He said the official gallery, where the officers of the Punjab government were supposed to be seated during proceedings of the house, wore a deserted look. The adjournment motions and call to attention notices submitted in the house are related to public interest, but no officer of the government was present in the official gallery.
The PML-N MPA said that under the supervision of an experienced speaker like Elahi, such an occurrence did not leave a good impression. He demanded the speaker’s ruling over the issue.
Elahi said that lists of all designated officers for the Punjab Assembly must be taken from the departments and the attendance of these individuals must be ensured. He also said that the administrative secretary of the department concerned should also be present during question hour.
Minister for Public Prosecution Chaudhry Zaheer-ud-Din also shared similar concerns and said that the departments of the government don’t give any importance to adjournment motions and other business of the lawmakers despite. He said this was despite the fact that MPAs worked hard to bring an adjournment motion.
Responding on the situation, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Basharat said the ministers would be responsible if the secretary of their department did not bother to show up. He added it ws the duty of the ministers to bind their secretaries to sit in the official gallery – the designated box for the bureaucracy.
Earlier, speaking on a point of order, PML-N’s Azma Bukhari said the health department had increased the rates for tests at government hospitals 100 by 100 percent. She said this went against the slogans and promises that the PTI government had made to the people before general elections.
“The PTI earlier claimed that drastic reforms will be introduced to public sector hospitals where people will get free medicines. However, the situation is altogether different and their slogans are hollow,” said Azma.
She further alleged that her assembly business is being stifled by officials. The speaker said that a general discussion on health would be held soon and she would get ample time to relay her concerns.
Earlier, Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Sibtain Khan said during question hour that this department wasn’t on the priority list of the last government. Therefore, it remained neglected and there was no work during last the 10 years. “I assure this house that things will change very soon,” he asserted.
Answering a question, the minister said the department was producing a specialised fish that would be available in the market for Rs200 rupees per kg soon and people will leave eating beef and mutton.
Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, a PML-N MPA from Chiniot, walked out of the house in protest as he said <inister for Public Prosecution Ch Zaheeruddin used derogatory language against the people of his area. A lack of quorum was pointed out and the session was adjourned till Tuesday morning.
Later, a meeting was held between the parliamentary leader of PPP, Syed Hassan Murtaza, and opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz in the latter’s chamber. Speaking on the occasion, both parties vowed to work to strengthen democracy in the country. Former speaker Rana Iqbal, MPAs Samiullah Khan, Shazia Abid, Malik Ahmed Khan, Manshaullah Butt and Irfan Daultana, were also present in the meeting.
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