PA speaker summons session amid virus fears

Opposition prepares to hold government accountable for ‘flawed’ policies

Mian Muhammad Aslam May 05, 2020

LAHORE: Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has summoned a session of the house on Friday at 2pm in response to a requisitions submitted by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Under Article 54 (3) of the constitution, the speaker is bound to summon a session within 14 days of the submission of requisitions by at least one-fourth of the total membership of the house.

Taking advantage of the clause, the two major opposition parties had submitted requisitions to the speaker of the assembly to summon a session.

However, the administration of Punjab Assembly is anxious about the arrangements owing to the limited space available at the premises for implementing social distancing and safety protocols in place to protect members and staff from Covid-19.

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A meeting of the Punjab Assembly Business Advisory Committee was held on Monday to address the issue.

Official sources revealed that important decisions related to members’ safety and security were taken during the meeting.

Only 100 members out of the total 371 will be allowed to attend the session and the list of lawmakers selected by the political parties for representation will be submitted by their parliamentary leaders.

Only listed members will be allowed to enter the assembly premises after passing through a disinfection tunnel. The members have also been asked to get tested for coronavirus as soon as possible.

It was also decided that the four-day session will begin at 2pm and end two hours before Iftar each day.

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Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti said they are trying to make arrangements for the session as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“It was necessary to call a meeting of the assembly because the opposition submitted requisitions. Now we can only request them to follow the SOPs,” he added.

Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan criticised the decision of the opposition parties of submit requisitions to force the government to convene a meeting of the assembly.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2020.


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