LAHORE: Punjab Assembly members have reiterated their support for a resolution passed earlier in the house, seeking a ban on ‘objectionable’ music concerts in academic institutions, but agreed to bring a fresh resolution on the matter.
The resolution, introduced by PML-Q MPA Seemal Kamran on Tuesday, received severe criticism from members of civil society and media who said it would stifle cultural activities in Punjab.
At the session on Wednesday, which started at 11:15am, all members vowed that academic institutions will not be permitted to organise ‘objectionable’ and ‘vulgar’ concerts. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal constituted a three-member committee to draft a new resolution. The panel comprises PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Chaudhry Zahiruddin, PPP’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Basra and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.
During the debate on Kamran’s resolution, Sheikh Alauddin, a member of the PML-Q Unification bloc, condemned the resolution. Speaking at a point of order, he requested that his counter-resolution be included out of turn by relaxing house rules. “What’s next? A resolution seeking a ban on wearing jeans in academic institutions?” he questioned. “Music is the culture of Punjab and should not be banned through any resolution.”
Iqbal asked him why he had not opposed the resolution at the time it was entertained and asked Sanaullah to respond.
Sanaullah replied that he had opposed the resolution and suggested that the word ‘objectionable’ be added, which was included in the resolution that was passed. “Media persons and critics should carefully read the resolution’s contents. Implementation of the resolution is not mandatory,” he argued, adding that obscene and vulgar events were already unlawful in academic institutions.
Zahiruddin agreed with Sanaullah and suggested that a new, amended resolution be brought before the house.
Surprisingly, PPP’s Raja Riaz, who leads the opposition in the house, also did an about-turn in the house and supported those dominant in the discussion. He had told reporters on Tuesday that the PPP will bring about a new resolution against the one on a music concert ban. He agreed that a fresh resolution should be presented but said that it should ban ‘objectionable’ and ‘vulgar’ music concerts. At one point, he along with other PPP MPAs staged a walkout, saying that the speaker was not allowing him to present his viewpoint on the resolution but eventually returned to the house.
Alauddin then protested and gave the house two options: withdraw its earlier resolution or bring a new one which does not include the word ‘objectionable’. “If the new resolution mentions that word, then it will become mandatory for an institute’s principal to seek permission from the culture department to organise the event. That is unacceptable,” he said.
PPP’s Azam Bukhari said that some anchorpersons were calling assembly members ‘brainless’, which should be condemned. The speaker agreed that this was reprehensible.
Free medicine deaths
The house then moved on to discuss the deaths from the fatal reaction of medicines that were handed out to patients free of cost by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.
Riaz demanded the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who also held the portfolio of health ministry, over the negligence of his department in the matter. “Shahbaz should be summoned in the house to explain and apprise lawmakers on steps that his government is taking to deal with the situation.”
All members agree that the parliamentary health secretary will conduct a daily briefing in the house and Shahbaz will conclude the discussion over the fiasco.
Meanwhile, 14 bills that were returned to the house by Punjab Governor Latif Khosa were passed by the assembly after heated and detailed debate.
Opposition members objected that treasury members cannot directly move the bills in the house. They argued that according to assembly rules, the bills will have to be sent back to the relevant standing committees and then brought before the house.
But Sanaullah said that that procedure applies only to new bills. He said that since these bills were passed in the house before they were sent for the governor’s approval. Therefore, he said, bringing them back to the house required just a motion.
Opposition members then supported the governor’s objections over the bills and asked treasury members not to pass them until the provincial government receives a final notification from the 18th amendment implementation commission.
Sanaullah said that following the 18th amendment, the provinces can legislate on these matters. “The governor’s only objection is that these departments have not come under the Punjab government’s purview but the constitution states that they have been devolved.”
The bills were then passed by the assembly again and sent to the governor. The bills will automatically become acts even if the governor does not consent to them.
The following bills were passed again:
- The Injured Persons Medical Aid Bill 2011
- The Powers of Attorney Amendment Bill 2011
- The Administrator General’s Amendment Bill 2011
- The Specific Relief Amendment Bill 2011
- The Official Trustee Amendment Bill 2011
- The Defamation Amendment Bill 2011
- The Provincial Insolvency Amendment Bill 2011
- The Charitable and Religious Trust Amendment Bill 2011
- The Hindu Inheritance Removal of Disabilities Bill 2011
- The Antiquities Amendment Bill 2011
- The Disabled Persons Employment and Rehabilitation Amendment Bill 2011
- The Factories Amendment Bill 2011
- The Minimum Wages Amendment Bill 2011
- The Punjab Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Amendment Bill 2011
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