Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told the provincial assembly on Friday that an investigation had been ordered and a report sought on inclusion of incorrect maps of the Punjab and Pakistan in an eighth grade geography textbook of the Punjab Textbook Board (PTB). He requested the House to wait for the completion of the inquiry before proceeding with an adjournment motion seeking action against officials responsible for the mistake.
The adjournment motion was moved by Leader of the Opposition Mehmoodur Rasheed. It demanded action against officials responsible for inclusion of maps that mentioned Hazara and Seraikistan as provinces and referred to the Indian-held Kashmir as a disputed territory.
Rasheed said the House had already passed resolutions in support of a division of the province if needed. He said the matter could be taken forward through political consensus.
Read: India bans Al Jazeera over Kashmir maps
The House also unanimously passed a resolution, moved by an opposition member, seeking constitution of a committee to probe the allegations against the Mutahida Qaumi Movement in a recent British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report. The resolution sought treason trial for MQM chief Altaf Hussain if the allegations were proved accurate.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Assembly passed Rs43 billion supplementary budget for the outgoing fiscal year. All five cut motions introduced by the opposition against 40 demands for grants were defeated amid protests and a walkout by some members.
During debate on the Rs2.5 billion grant for loans, municipalities and autonomous bodies, Mian Aslam Iqbal of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf sought a special audit of funds given to town administrations between 2010 and 2015.
Sardar Vickas Hassan Mokal of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid questioned the rationale for establishment of autonomous companies. He criticised the increase in the budget for waste collection from Rs1 billion to Rs9 billion. He said the number of waste collection points had been unchanged at 6,600 despite spending nine times the budgeted amount.
Khadija Umar said the way government was managing municipal administration it appeared unlikely that it would hold local elections this September. She said in place of over 50,000 elected local government officials [under the previous local government system] the provincial government had handed over the municipal administration to 37 people in the province. She lamented that Local Government Department offices had been unused for seven years.
Read: 'Inaccurate' maps of India, Pakistan taken off US State Dept website
Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said strengthening of local governments was a priority and elections would be held on schedule. She said the opposition’s reservations would be addressed with the restructuring of local governments under the recently passed Local Government Act. She said the government would also fulfill its commitment on establishment of the Provincial Finance Commission.
Pasha said major heads in the grant included the Apparel Park, the Lahore and Rawalpindi Waste Management Companies and a self-employment scheme. Under the self employment loan scheme, over 6,000 people had secured loans ranging between Rs10,000 and Rs50,000. Pasha said Rs11.6 billion loans had been disbursed under the scheme.
Responding to the cut motion against the demand for roads and bridges, Minister for Urban Development Tanveer Aslam said the government was working to promote parity between the number of development projects started in northern and southern districts. He said budget allocation for the road sector reform would be increased from Rs150 billion to Rs200 billion over next few years.
Earlier, Dr Waseem Akhtar of the Jamaat Islami criticised the low share of southern districts in the number of road projects started in the province in 2014-15. He said of the 227 projects only five were in Bahawalpur and 33 in remaining southern districts. Akhtar later staged a walkout to protest interruption of his speech by the Speaker.
Of the 40 demands in the supplementary budget, 25 were token demands of Rs1,000 each. Of the Rs43 billion supplementary budget, Rs18.5 billion was spent on disaster relief, Rs9.1 billion on roads and bridges, Rs4.9 billion on public health, Rs1.9 billion on general administration and Rs1.62 billion on miscellaneous expenses.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2015.
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