LAHORE: Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervez Elahi is unlikely to issue production order for the leader of opposition Hamza Shehbaz Sharif to attend the first day of the budget session scheduled to be started on June 13 (today).
Most probably, the speaker will issue Hamza’s production order on June 14 (tomorrow) summoning him to attend the budget session.
Sources claimed that on June 13, the session will start after 4:00pm even though the scheduled time is 3:00pm. The matter of the issuance of the production order will be discussed in detail with Punjab government including Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja on June 13. Finally, the production order of Hamza Shehbaz Sharif could not be issued on June 13 (today).
Former president Asif Ali Zardari was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a day before the budget was presented in the National Assembly. Similarly, Hamza was arrested a day before the provincial budget session was scheduled to start.
Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar had not issued the production order for former president Asif Ali Zardari to attend the budget session, meanwhile, Punjab Assembly speaker Elahi would not issue the production order for June 13. It is believed that the production order of Hamza would be issued for June 14.
A delegation of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by former speaker Rana Iqbal Khan had submitted an application in the Punjab Assembly secretariat seeking issuance of the production order of the opposition leader so that he could attend the budget session.
This is the second consecutive year for the PML-N lawmakers facing a hard time. Last year, the PTI-led government had presented its first budget but the PML-N had boycotted the proceedings as Speaker Elahi had banned its six MPAs for allegedly being involved in the wreckage in Assembly chambers.
PML-N had set a ‘parallel house’ on the stairs of the assembly as a result of which PTI got approved its first budget on October 25 for the fiscal year 2018-19 in the absence of the opposition.
This year, when the provincial budget is being presented in Punjab Assembly, the National Accountability Bureau arrested leader of the opposition Hamza Shehbaz Sharif in alleged cases of Ramzan Sugar Mills and assets beyond known means of income as a division bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed his bails after his counsels withdrew them (his bails).
While a source in PML-N claimed that if the production order was issued and Hamza came to the assembly to attend the first day of the session, he would definitely speak in the house. He said it seemed that the PML-N would not boycott the proceedings, unlike last year, adding PML-N would raise voice for the poor people who suffered most due to the skyrocketing prices.
Some lawmakers in PML-N seemed divided a little over Hamza’s production order. Some of them suggested that PTI should not be provided with a clear way to present its budget and should be taken with iron hands in Assembly over price hike while some are in the mood to boycott the proceedings.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2019.