LAHORE - The Opposition yesterday staged token boycott of the Punjab Assembly after the chair frustrated the bid to raise the detention issue of Jammat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed in the House.

At the outset of the proceedings with the 26th session, leader of the Opposition Mian Mahmudur Rasheed speaking on a point of order wanted answer from the Punjab government as to why Hafiz Saeed and his four companions were detained on Monday when he was not wanted by the security agencies in any criminal case. He wanted the House to take up a debate on the detention. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, however, turned down the plea saying the detention in question has come about under the order passed by the Federal Government as such the issue merits to be raised at that level.

In return, the PTI leader said Hafiz Saeed is a resident of Punjab and he has been detained in the city as such it was for the Punjab government to respond as to evidence which obliged the provincial government to carry out order of the Centre to detain its citizens.

Mahmudur Rasheed with conviction said that action against the JuD chief has been taken under pressure from the United States and India as “he is a voice of Kashmiris against the atrocities by the Indian troops on them, he seeks resolution of Kashmir issue and his organisation is engaged in the welfare works on health, education and in emergency situation, which these states want to stop at any cost.”

“We all strongly condemn detention of Hafiz Saeed,” the PTI leader said amid loud slogans against the government action. The speaker said that Hafiz Saeed is highly respectable for him too, “so let the law minister appear in the House to give answer to your proposition”. But the absence of minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan, prompted the Opposition, minus PPP, to stage a token walkout. Dr Farzana Nazir of the Treasury said “on Kashmir we all are one and invited the Opposition to jointly observe Kashmir solidarity day on February 5.”

Meanwhile, with one voice, the House carried a resolution for developing a website to highlight different aspects of the life of the founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and another against the videogame outlets operating in streets and corrupting the immature minds of children. With the Opposition ‘nay’, the House carried with majority another resolution which sought complete ban on holding protests at The Mall which was causing immense traffic and public movement problems.

On this private members day, Opposition member Arif Abbasi alleged the government for failing in implementing the law on bonded labour as the brick kiln workers were still being paid much lower than the official fixed rates and their families were being ‘purchased’ by the owners for compulsory labour at the lowest rates.

Minister Tahir Khalil Sindhu however confronted this claim and said, any such incident should be pointed out and he would take immediate action. On that, Abbasi replied that one victim family was already sitting in his office.

Another Opposition member spoke for the thousands of the residents of Multan who are residing alongside the area of Meto Bus and are facing marsh and mire and the pools of sewerage water to which no one was paying attention.

Muhammad Rafiq of Treasury brought killing of 27 people due to poisonous liquor in district Toba Tek Singh on December 26 to the knowledge of House, contending that the police was patronising the sale of homemade liquor which has caused death to hundreds of people across the country over the last few years. The chair pended the motion.

Answering to the queries related to the department of Prisons, Youth Affairs and Sports, Minister for the Prisons Ahmad Yar Bachhur told the House that a summary has been presented to the chief minister for equating the salaries of Wardens and the Head Wardens with the police persons of the same ranks. He said that special cells for married prisoners for spending time with the spouse have been set up in four district prisons and another four of the rest 36 will also be provided the same facility in the next budget.

Nine years ago, the Punjab assembly had unanimously carried a resolution to this effect which has as yet not been implemented. The speaker asked the minister to look into the matter whether staff at the jails was accepting bribery from visitors when the questioner disagreed with the answer given by the department. The minister contended that the system to monitor activity of the staff in jails has been computerized; however, he would comply with the order of the chair.

The House also granted leave to present two draft bills namely the Punjab Land Preservation (Amendment) Bill and the Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Bill. The chair referred the bills to the standing committee concerned for report within two months.

As many as five adjournment motions on different public related issues were presented that were pended till next week for reply. Further proceedings were adjourned till 10am today.