LAHORE: Two minority MPAs staged a token walkout in protest against the misuse of the blasphemy laws while a resolution, demanding that the province be allowed to export all of its surplus wheat, was passed unanimously during the first day of the Punjab Assembly session.
Ali Haider Noor Khan Niazi, a member belonging to the MMA, moved the resolution. The text reads, “Punjab’s economy is based on agriculture and the farmer is its backbone. In order to ensure that the farmers did not suffer, the Punjab government acquired 5.78 million tons of wheat instead of the required 3 million last year, increasing its debt to Rs130 billion. In 2010, when it already had carry over stocks of 2.9 million tons of wheat. The government acquired an additional 3.72 tons exacerbating the situation. Now we have an outstanding loan of Rs186 billion. The inability to pay the loan is not only pushing up the interest rate and causing more deficit and inflation but has also affected the government’s developmental funds. We have asked the federal government many times to arrange for the surplus wheat to be exported but to no avail.
If nothing is done and the acquisition target for the province is set at 4 million tons like last year, Punjab will have to store 7.8 million tons of wheat, for which it does not have the space or funds.”
Seemal Kamran also walked out after Senior Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed answered her question with “Mitti pao, chorh bhi do (Let it go)”. Kamran called Ahmed “irresponsible” and walked out in protest.
When she came back to the House, she refused to listen to Ahmed’s answer to the question she had posed. During the Question Hour, Ahmed while responsing to another question, told the House that FESCO has been paid in order to give a connection for 14 tube wells in water logged areas.
The three-hour session started with a delay of an hour and 50 minutes. Rana Rizvi, a new PPP MPA on a reserve seat, was sworn in.
A resolution against the Reformed General Sales Tax will be presented in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday, Rana Mohammad Iqbal Khan, the Speaker, assured the House. Chaudhry Zaheerud Din, the leader of the opposition, said on a point of order that the chief minister had double standards. “He supported the RGST in Council of Common Interests and opposes it later,” Zaheeruddin said.
MPA Rana Arshad protested against the alleged misappropriation of funds during Hajj and demanded that strict action be taken against those responsible for it.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.