Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Raja Riaz has alleged that a pharmaceutical factory which collapsed on Monday, killing several workers and trapping dozens in the rubble, had been re-opened at the behest of MNA Hamza Sharif, son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Speaking to reporters outside the Punjab Assembly, Riaz said that “credible sources” had told him that Hamza Sharif had pressed the authorities concerned to allow the factory to reopen even though officially it was still supposed to be sealed. He did not say why the factory had been sealed in the first place. He said the chief minister and the MNA should resign over the tragic incident.
Riaz also accused the government of reneging on a promise that the chief minister would attend assembly proceedings on Monday at the conclusion of a debate on the scores of deaths from tainted drugs handed out at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC). He said that Speaker Rana Iqbal and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had made the promise on Friday. He said that the opposition would move a privilege motion against the chief minister and the law minister for breaking their promise. He said that both should resign.
Sanaullah later dismissed Riaz’s allegations about Hamza Sharif as a “bongi” [silly comment]. He said that the leader of the house usually replied to the speeches of the leader of the opposition, but Riaz had had not delivered a speech on the PIC fiasco, so there was not much for the chief minister to reply to.
“I have seen a recording of Friday’s debate and it mostly consisted of lota and handi slogans. When Riaz makes a proper speech the chief minister will come and reply,” he said. He said that after the 20th Amendment to the Constitution is passed, the assembly members elected in by-polls would be restored.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2012.
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