The Punjab Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on Tuesday, calling on the federal government to provide MPAs blue passports and diplomatic passports to the speaker and deputy speaker.
The resolution was presented by Law Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman.
During the session, the speaker constituted a committee to investigate allegations of corruption in the Lahore Development Authority Employees Housing Scheme.
The inquiry was ordered on the request of Minister for Cooperatives Malik Muhamad Iqbal Channar, who said that officials were involved in corrupt practices. It was private members’ day at the assembly session.
MPA Ayesha Javed had raised questions about the alleged corruption of the cooperative’s leaders. She said they had failed to get approval of the blueprint for the scheme.
Channar said the society had been set up 33 years ago. He said the blueprint had never been approved.
The speaker expressed his displeasure, saying the cooperatives minister had the responsibility to probe the matter. In the end, he accepted Channar’s request.
The house also passed a resolution on bringing an end to drug abuse in youth through government initiatives, moved by Alauddin, and prohibition of showing rape victims on television channels, moved by Hina Pervez Butt.
A resolution was not moved owing to the absence of the proposer. Syed Waseem Akhtar was to move the resolution to pay tribute to late Majid Nizami.
Kanwal Nauman’s resolution proposed that the government provide assistance to non-government organisations for inducting people with disabilities was defeated when put to vote. Another resolution, presented by MPA Nighat Shaikh, on expanding the jurisdiction of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau by making it a directorate was withdrawn after the speaker advised the MPA to consult the Law Department on how to frame it.
Nighat Shaikh and Uzma Bukhari spoke on the funding of art galleries in the Lahore district and the perks enjoyed by the Bank of Punjab president and chairman respectively.
MPA Sardar Shahabud Din Khan criticised the government throughout the session on Tuesday. “Government servants are answerable to the House and to the people at large,” he said. He criticised the absence of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif from the session, calling on the speaker to take notice of the matter. Khan also walked out of the assembly proceedings in protest against, what he said, was a violation of rules. He also objected to the absence of ministers to respond to questions raised by lawmakers.
Alauddin spoke about the results of a survey conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) regarding the performance of assemblies.
“The Punjab Assembly has been ranked the lowest in terms of its performance. This is embarrassing and disappointing,” he said. Similar concerns regarding the performance of the assembly were expressed by Malik Muhammad Waris Kallu.
The debate on the pending resolution on defending democracy failed to make it to the agenda on the second day.
A majority of the opposition members were once again absent. None of the 30 Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPAs took part in the proceedings.
The session was then adjourned till 10am on Wednesday morning.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.
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