Opposition slams governor's ‘interference’ in government affairs

PML-N MPAs term it as an encroachment of chief minister’s powers


Rana Yasif March 15, 2019
PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: The opposition in Punjab Assembly came hard on the role of Punjab governor prescribed in ‘Aab-e-Pak Authority’ and termed the move of the government as a violation of the Constitution.

The lawmakers of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said the role of Punjab governor as the patron-in-chief of the said authority would be considered as an encroachment in the powers of the chief minister. They said the chief minister was the chief executive of the province and therefore the former cannot become its patron-in-chief because all executive powers rest with the CM after the 18th amendment.

The government took Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority Bill on Thursday by suspending the rules that was opposed by the opposition who termed it against the parliamentary norms of this house.

Speaking on the occasion, PML-N’s Malik Ahmed Khan said it would set a wrong precedent to do legislation by suspending the rules in haste as the government could bring the bill on some other day.

Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi remarked that such precedents were available in the house. “If the Punjab governor is made as the patron-in-chief of any authority then it would open Pandora’s box as the government will have to make certain amendments in the rules of the business of both the Punjab Assembly and the government of Punjab for legalising the role of the governor,” said PML-N’s MPA Samiullah Khan. “It is the CM who will be answerable to the people after five years and not the governor and this bill will open a way of encroachment for the governor in the authority and powers of the chief executive, he said.

He said no question or resolution could be submitted regarding the activities of governor according to the rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure of Punjab Assembly. Similarly, no MPA could talk in the house about governor as per rules 202 (b) of Punjab Assembly. “If an MPA can ask a question from the law minister or even from the leader of the house then he can also ask a question from the governor because he will be working as the patron-in-chief of one of the most important authorities after the passage of the bill,” he said.

He pointed out that Chaudhry Sarwar had also worked as governor during the last government of PML-N and according to media reports he had some differences with the PML-N leadership at that time. He wanted to head the projects of water filtration plants because his one of his close friends was associated with the business of filtration plants.

“The foundation of a major scandal is being laid today through this bill and it will remain unclear that who is running the affairs of the province CM or the Governor,” he remarked.

Khalil Tahir Sandhu of PML-N also raised objections on the role of governor in the authority as he said that if Chaudhry Sarwar was really interested in doing politics then he should come and sit in this house.

Azma Bokhari said the role of governor in the authority was unconstitutional and unlawful and therefore she would challenge it in the court. She was of the view that it was an insult to the elected representative who came to this house with the mandate of the people and a non-elected person would try to encroach his domain.

Later, speaking on the bill, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said the role of the governor was being made controversial by the members of the opposition and there was nothing wrong in the bill. He told the house that all the affairs of the authority would be run by the governing body and the executive authority rests with this body.

“If the governor can become the chancellor of hundreds of universities then what is wrong in it if he becomes the patron-in-chief of an authority,” said the law minister. The government passed the bill with a majority in the absence of the opposition who later staged a walkout from the house to register their protest.

 

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