Punjab Assembly: House uninterested in agenda, law and order debate

PPP members leave to attend ZAB’s birth anniversary celebrations.


Abdul Manan January 05, 2012

LAHORE:


Legislators’ debate on the law and order situation in the province was cut short after the speaker adjourned the session, noting that ministers, opposition leaders and authorities concerned were not present in the House.


The session started a little more than two hours after its scheduled time, 10am.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal had earlier, on the opposition’s request, suspended Rules of Procedure of PA, 1997 – regarding the question hour and presentation of adjournment motions – and allowed the House to debate the deteriorating law and order in the Punjab.

Leader of Opposition, PPP’s Raja Riaz, refused to participate in the debate after pointing out that the officers concerned – Inspector General of Police, home secretary and chief secretary – were not present in the official gallery.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the officers had been told by the business advisory committee to come to the House at 2pm. He, however, assured the members that officers had been notified to reach the assembly earlier because the agenda had been suspended. “Opposition members should begin their speeches. The officers will be here [shortly],” Sanullah said.

But that was not good enough for Riaz who left after announcing that the PPP members had to attend birth anniversary celebrations for party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

PML-Q members – Mohsin Leghari, Seemal Kamran, Sameena Khawar Hayat, Dr Samia Amjad –termed the “non-serious attitude” of the leader of the opposition “disappointing” and said that they would open the debate.

Seemal Kamran reminded the House – all 26 members that were present at that time – about Sanaullah’s “ridiculous” speech on Wednesday during which he had blamed the energy crisis for the behind deteriorating law and order in the Punjab. “Once the energy crisis is over the Punjab government should abolish the Police Department and to divert all the funds to the energy sector,” Kamran said. She urged the provincial government to also tackle corruption, which she said was the provinces’ second biggest problem.

Sheikh Alauddin read out the statistics provided by the Lahore Police. He said that out of a total of 26, 330 personnel in Lahore 15,730 were reserved for VVIP duties. “Another 2,500 serve as gunmen for judges, bureaucrats and important personalities,” he said. The strength of the Investigation wing is 7,000 while that of Operations stands at 3,600, he said, adding that the numbers were disproportionate to the city’s population of around 90 million.

According to the figures Alauddin presented, only 160 of a total of 900 Elite Force personnel posted in Lahore are on emergency duties. “The rest are deployed with VVIPs,” the minister said, adding that 150 personnel of Rescue 15 were also on VVIP duties. “The VVIPs eat up 40 per cent of Lahore Police’s budget,” he said.

The PML-Q Unification Bloc member recommended that a vigilance cell be set up in the Police Department, like Customs, to keep a check on the police.

Other suggestions included that the government file for a review of the Supreme Court ruling in which it was declared that police could not confiscate immovable property of guarantors and deployment of extra officials in jails so they could “monitor” who came to meet whom.

“Only gentlemen should be given weapon licences,” he remarked and then went on to suggest that the Police Department should introduce a system for an early retirement “like the army”.

He also recommended that the record of property dealers and motor vehicle agents should be computerised. He said that dealers should be required to register client data with the police station concerned within two hours of a sale.

The Unification bloc member said that guest houses should not just to be raided over complaints but also registered and monitored regularly. He also objected to the police releasing women arrested from guest houses for “illicit activities” while holding the men. “Both men and women should be arrested and punished,” he said.

The member said that trackers be installed in all police vehicle so that mobiles could be monitored.

He suggested that a separate police force be recruited for VVIP protection.

By that time IG Javed Iqbal had arrived in the Chambers but all ministers had left. PML-Q’s Ata Muhammad Khan Maneka asked the speaker to call the ministers at which the speaker issued directions that all ministers should inform him before leaving the House.

Maneka then pointed out the quorum. Shortly after the quorum was pointed out, Sanaullah also left the House. The session was adjourned till 9am on Friday morning.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012.

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