Punjab Assembly: Demands of grants passed after opposition’s walkout

MPAs from both sides throw shoes at each other; MPA Muhammad Yar Hiraj demands security against power rioters.


Abdul Manan June 20, 2012

LAHORE:


The treasury benches passed demands of grants for government departments in the 2012-13 budget on Wednesday after the opposition had walked out in protest against an ugly confrontation involving shoe-throwing in the Punjab Assembly.


The session resumed at 11am with Muhammad Yar Hiraj of the PML-Quaid, speaking on a point of order, demanding security against power rioters. He said that a mob led by the PML-Nawaz’s Ehsanuddin Qureshi, a provincial minister, had besieged his house for the last five days and torched his crops. He said that Qureshi was providing fuel to the protesters to burn the houses of his family. He said that as a citizen, the Punjab government must provide security to him and his property. Instead, he said, the chief minister was instigating more riots.

Hiraj then pointed out the quorum, forcing an adjournment. Later speaking to reporters outside the assembly, he urged the federal government to impose a state of emergency in the Punjab and to deploy the Rangers to restore order.

When proceedings resumed, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told the assembly that the guards of Hiraj and Riaz Fatyana, another legislator whose house was attacked by rioters, had gunned down two protestors. He said that the guards were proclaimed offenders. He said that the police had rescued Fatyana from his house.

The treasury and opposition began bickering, at which point Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal intervened and observed that the government should offer compensation for the damages and provide security to the people of the province.

A shoe for a shoe

The bickering got worse after privilege motions, with many female MPAs involved. Women on the treasury benches began calling the PML-Q’s women MPAs “Chaudhrion kee chelian”. They were met with a response of “Shahbaz kee chelian”.

Unification Bloc leader Sheikh Alauddin, speaking on a point of order, made a scathing attack on the opposition women MPAs. He accused them of ruining the atmosphere in the assembly over the last few years. He said the assembly should have dealt with them two years ago, when he submitted a privilege motion against them two years ago.

Alauddin’s vitriol provoked further outrage on the opposition benches and though the speaker expunged some of his remarks from the record, the women MPAs rose from their seats and shouted back at him. At some point, Seemal Kamran of the PML-Q threw a shoe towards the treasury benches and Anjum Safdar of the PML-N threw her shoe at the opposition benches.

PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Chaudhry Zahiruddin Khan demanded an apology from the treasury benches, but Sanaullah said Kamran should apologise first since she had thrown her shoe first.

The opposition benches then walked out of the house in protest.

Kamran later said that the treasury benches had provoked the walkout so they could vote on the demands of grants without opposition.

After the walkout, the speaker applied “guillotine”, a procedure by which the speaker himself reads out the demands of grants, rather than the finance minister, and conducts a voice vote.

Also in the opposition’s absence, the treasury benches voted against a cut motion calling for the police budget to be reduced to one rupee. Three other cut motions were also defeated without debate under guillotine.

The speaker adjourned the session till Thursday morning, when the finance bill, sales tax bill and schedule for laying of authorised expenditure – the remaining parts of the budget after the demands of grants  are to be passed.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2012.

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