LAHORE: It was back to business as usual in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday with the treasury and opposition members attacking each other’s leaders.
The session started at 11am, an hour later than the scheduled time. Acting speaker Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan presided over the proceedings. According to the agenda the day was set aside for executing private members business.
PML-N’s Asghar Ali Monda, on a point of order, said that President Zardari had deceived the nation. “He is sitting in Dubai, attending party meetings,” Monda said. He said that Zardari’s illness was “a drama”. “He fled the country because of the Memo scandal,” the Muslim League MPA said.
He asked PPP members to present, in the assembly, any document which could attest to the reason why the president left the country.
At this Hassan Murtaza of the PPP threatened to disrupt the business of the House if he was not allowed to respond to Monda’s “allegations”. When the chair allowed him to do so, Murtaza asked the PML-N member to retract his statement. “How dare they criticise President Zardari when their own leaders fled the country when the people needed them,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz then stood up and asked the speaker to expunge Monda’s words from the record because the business advisory committee had earlier agreed on not criticising party leaders.
At this, several members started thumping their desks and shouting slogans. Mashhood intervened and directed the members to refrain from disparaging senior party leaders.
Minister for Zakat and Ushr Malik Nadeem Kamran pointed out that Raja Riaz had been the first one to do so when he targeted the chief minister. Riaz had earlier asked the speaker to force Shahbaz Sharif to attend the session. “He considers it a disgrace to sit with his party members,” the opposition leader had said. Riaz said that frequently ministers and parliamentary secretaries could not satisfactorily answer members’ questions regarding their respective departments and so Sharif’s presence was essential. Kamran defended Sharif’s absence and said that the chief minister was too busy to be disturbed.
During the Tuesday session, Mashhood accepted the resignation tendered by Malik Khurram Ali Khan, the PPP member from PP18 (Attock) on December 7, 2011.
Four public interest resolutions and three adjournment motions were taken up on Tuesday. PML-Q’s Mohsin Leghari presented a resolution asking that quota be fixed in DG Khan Medical College for students from other provinces.
Sheikh Alauddin submitted an adjournment motion asking that the House discuss public transport and its management. He referred to the Kallar Kahar accident in which 30 school children were killed. He said he particularly wanted to focus on the roles of Motor Vehicle Examiner – that gives a fitness certificate to vehicles that are clearly unsafe – and Excise and Taxation Department.
Alauddin also submitted a motion demanding discussion on why the Federal Board of Revenue had cancelled an order issued by Shahbaz Sharif under which sugar mills had been asked to submit details of their dealers.
Parliamentary secretary for Industries, Commerce and Investment Rana Tajammul Hussain was asked about the steps the Punjab government had taken, or planned to take, to attract foreign investment.
Hussain answered by handing out copies of a 31-page document.
The session was adjourned till 10am Wednesday (today) after PPP’s Azma Bukhari pointed out the quorum.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2011.
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