LAHORE - Opposition in the Punjab Assembly on Monday boycotted the session on the note it would not return to the house till their mandate is accepted and they are given development funds and representation in the district coordination committees (DCCs).
In the absence of the Opposition, the treasury members easily carried the bill on establishment of Khawaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology at Rahim Yar Khan.
In a rare scene, PML-N MPA from Kasur, Anees Qureshi, during the questions hour, burst out against his own government and said the system has not been streamlined to involve the elected representatives. He said the elected people are being kept in the dark as to what is going on.
The Opposition complained to Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani that their privilege motions have been lying without any action since long. Leader of the Opposition Mian Mahmoodur Rashid, taking the floor at the end of the question hour, advised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take up core issues of Kashmir, water, and atrocities of the Indian forces against the Muslims of Kashmir and other parts instead of petty ones like developing the Ravi River Project on the pattern of Baramati Project of Hyderabad, India. He also spoke of development funds for the Opposition members and their representation in the DCCc, while accusing the chief minister of spending billions on his personal choice and whims.
He warned they would continue protest till their demands are met and would not let the budget session run smoothly. With his these remarks, all the opposition members immediately left the house, but the treasury continued to carry forward items on agenda.
Unlike the past, the chair did not send for calling the Opposition back to the house, but sought their comeback on technical grounds. At the Business Advisory Committee meeting prior to the session, the chair had accepted holding of general debate on health on the demand of the leader of the opposition, so the chair deferred the discussion till the Opposition is back to the house voluntarily. The chair repeatedly called the leader of the Opposition to come back, but he did not show up.
The attitude of the Opposition was indeed annoying for Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan who wanted to respond to allegations in the presence of the opponents. Sana straightway came down hard on the PTI and said staging boycott and pursuing politics of agitation is a part of the anti-state agenda this party. He said the PTI is working undemocratically in the house, which is evident from the boycott.
The minister reminded the house of a meeting he had arranged with the CM on the request of the Opposition to enable them present their grievances. All the parties attended the meeting except PTI which backed out at the eleventh hour, he added.
As to development funds, the minister said it was not a privilege of a member, but the funds can be spent on the developments schemes which a members points out. He said the reason for rancor of the PTI is that development work is going on in their constituencies, but without involvement of the members. Responding Rashid’s advice to the PM, the minister said Nawaz Sharif is a third-time prime minister of the country and has a vast experience of what to say and when to say. He said the PM always kept national interest above any other thing and he would speak in India with this spirit.
He updated the house on the latest position of the development schemes and said the Supreme Court, through an interim injunction, has suspended work on the schemes except on those under the Annual Development Programme (ADP). They are awaiting the next hearing on June 2 to see what the court orders about other schemes, he maintained.
Later, the house passed a bill on setting up a university in Rahim Yar Khan.
Earlier, during the question hour on the department of human resources, social development and Baitul Maal, Minister Rana Ashfaq Sarwar told the house the government, in order to provide residential and other facilities to kiln workers, has issued notification for the registration of kilns in the province. To another question on jehaz fund, Parliamentary Secretary Ilyas Ansari informed the house that Rs 1.765 million were allocated for Lahore in this regard, but no application was received for marriage funds during the year. This revelation was surprising for the Opposition members that in the city with a population of 10 million no application was made for funds.