MPA Rana Asif Mehmood has been stopped from delivering the budget speech on Saturday (today) on account of the Supreme Court’s hearing in the dual nationality of parliamentarians, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said during the Punjab Assembly session on Friday.
He said it would have been embarrassing if Mehmood was disqualified after having delivered the budget speech. The SC is scheduled to hear the case on June 13, four days after the budget speech on June 9.
“In the interest of effective governance, another minister will be asked to present the budget,” he said.
According to a provincial government official, Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Minister for Excise and Taxation and Education, has been given the additional charge of the Finance Department and asked to present the budget. Governor Sardar Latif Khosa has accepted Mehmood’s resignation.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz, speaking on a point of order during the question hour, criticised Mehmood for his election to the House on a minorities’ seat despite carrying a national identity card that declared him a Muslim. He said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was responsible for Mehmood’s unlawful election on a reserved seat.
PPP member Hassan Murtaza also joined the harangue over Mehmood’s election on minorities’ seat. He said the chief minister should leave the matters of governance and instead start issuing religious decrees.
Treasury members interrupted the opposition and asked the speaker to stop them from raising points of order during the question hour.
Parliamentary Secretary on Law Tahir Khalik Sindhu said religious beliefs of any member were not a concern of the House and that the opposition should refrain from discussing such matters. He said a Paksitan Muslim League-Nawaz committee was already probing Mehmood’s dual nationality and added that his faith was not a factor in that inquiry.
Mehmood later said he had gotten the religion entry in his identity card corrected from the National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA). He said it was earlier erroneously stated as Islam.
He said he would accept the decision of the party committee examining his dual nationality.
PML-Q’s Parliamentary Leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin Khan and Opposition Leader Raja Riaz later went up to Mehmood. They said that both their parties respected the rights of religious minorities and would have refrained from discussing his religious beliefs had the clarification come earlier.
The PPP members walked out from the House following an argument over Services Hospital fire that had killed seven babies on Thursday. Ashraf Sohna had demanded a strict punishment for anyone found responsible in the matter.
The speaker later adjourned the session till 4pm on Saturday when the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will be presented.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.
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