Punjab Assembly discusses MPA salary increases amid soaring inflation

Members of the house point out lawmakers from other provinces getting sufficient salaries


Rana Yasif March 06, 2019
PHOTO: ONLINE

LAHORE: As the common man grapples to make ends meet due to soaring inflation, lawmakers from the treasury plan to table a bill which will increase MPAs’ salaries.

In Tuesday’s session, legislators seemed to be comparing their salaries with assembly members of other provinces. The salaries are insufficient and need to be increased, it was stated in the house

The matter came under discussion when MPA Ghazanfar Abbas Chheena, on as point of order, drew the attention of the house towards the sufficient salaries of MPA in other provinces. He said most assemblies had increased the pay, but the Punjab Assembly failed to follow suit.

Chheena pointed out that he had submitted an amendment bill and the same could be produced before the house, if permitted by the chair. Responding to his proposal, provincial law minister Raja Basharat said the bill had already been submitted and needs approval of the cabinet. Once the necessary steps are completed, it will be tabled before the assembly.

Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari said the bill should be passed if all members were satisfied and had no objections. He added the provincial law minister should introduce the bill in the coming week to get it passed. Basharat agreed and ensured that the needful would be done during this week.

Later, matters got heated in the session as Punjab government MPAs and ministers failed to defend the derogatory statement of Minister for Information and Culture Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan against the Hindu community. The opposition grilled the treasury and finally walked out of the house. However, they were later persuaded to return.

The debate sparked when PML-N minority MPA Tahir Khalil Sindhu lashed out over Chohan’s derogatory statement. He said the Hindu community always stood with Pakistan and even chanted slogans in its favour. Sindhu added if derogatory language was required, it should have been used against India and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Minister for Public Prosecution Chaudhary Zaheeruddin clarified that the statement of Chohan was his own and the party had nothing to do with it. He said the white in the national flag reflected the presence of minorities in Pakistan. He stated that both Hindus and Christians played pivotal roles in the survival of Pakistan and the nation was proud of them.

Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Ijaz Alam also expressed his gloom over the statements of Chohan and Faisal Vawda. He pointed out it was the first time that an incumbent government celebrated Christmas and Holi on a government level.

PPP’s Parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza said Chohan did not know how to respect others. “First he had targeted the showbiz community, then journalists, politicians and minorities.” He highlighted that the reason for Chohan to pass such remarks was to keep him in the media spotlight. He said India had extremists like Modi and Chohan was playing a similar role in Pakistan.

Former Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan also expressed his dismay over Chohan’s statement. He said Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan provided equal rights to minorities and no one could deprive them of this.

Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari directed law minister Raja Basharat to bring Chohan to the house to apologise for his derogatory statements so that a message could be sent to others.

Finally, the House was adjourned will 11am on Wednesday.

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