LAHORE - JAWAD R AWAN/IQTIDAR GILANI - The Opposition on Wednesday, rebuking the treasury over law and order situation, demanded from top to bottom accountability of the police department, besides stopping political appointments of police officers to control the increasing crime rate in the largest province of the country.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah, replying to the Opposition questions, admitted poor performance of the police department and said the provincial government was taking a number of steps to transform the department into a model one.

The fourth day of Punjab Assembly’s fifth session remained distasteful as the opposition boycotted it after not getting permission to table a resolution against drone attacks and against Tuesday’s remarks of Rana Sana Ullah over the opposition’s stance on the drone raids.

The Opposition parties, under the leadership of Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, staged a protest demonstration and raised slogans against the treasury on the assembly stairs for not giving permission to table an anti-drone resolution and against the provincial law minister’s remarks.

The PTI, PML-Q, PPP and JI members announced they would not take part in the house business until an apology from Rana Sana Ullah.

He said Rana Sana Ullah should take back the words of ‘drone drama’ which he uttered to ridicule a genuine movement to stop drones.

He said the Opposition would summon a session outside the house if the law minister did not tender apology over his non-parliamentary behaviour.

On the instructions of the Punjab Assembly speaker, provincial ministers, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and Nadeem Kamran, met the opposition to get them back in the house proceedings, but they refused to turn up till an apology from Rana Sana Ullah. They rejoined the House after the law minister’s apology.

The opposition, after a brief consultation, joined the house and opened the debate on law and order situation in the province.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sabtain Khan demanded the provincial government conduct ruthless accountability of the police department, besides ending appointments on political basis in order to end corruption and get the services of thorough professionals in the department to deal with the law and order situation. Dr Wasim Akhtar said the law and order situation in the largest province was the worst due to political appointments.

The provincial law minister, replying to queries regarding the police, said the government was taking a number of steps to make it a model department.

He admitted that culture in the police stations could not be changed as the low-cadre police officers and personnel were corrupt like employees of revenue and income tax departments.

However, he claimed the police officers working on higher positions were far better than the lower cadre and the government appoints DPOs and RPOs after thoroughly going through their track record.

He said the police investigation process was poor, while the government to deal with this vital issue would expand forensic laboratory system to all the districts and tehsils of the province next year. He said the CCTV network which had almost been completed in the provincial capital would be expanded in all parts of Punjab.

Sana said the provincial government would select sub inspectors for 308 police stations through PPSC examination.

Earlier, Revenue Minister Bilal Yaseen remained on the receiving end during question hour on revenue and colonies even at a time when the opposition legislatures stayed away from the assembly proceedings. The unprepared minister failed to satisfy not only treasury legislators but also Speaker Rana Iqbal who took strong exception to his wrong answers and directed him to take action against the officials for misleading the House.

Treasury legislator Mian Naseer pointed out that the previous minister revenue had claimed computerisation of land record of 109 revenue estates of Lahore in 2009. He lamented that now in 2013 the department, responding to the same question, had claimed completion of computerisation in 104 revenue estates of Lahore. He claimed that it was astonishing that the department was going downwards instead of improving its performance. Instead of clarifying the situation, Bilal Yaseen started praising the chief minister for his revolutionary steps.

Mian Naseer said his question pertained to the performance of the department which was claiming completion of the computerisation of land record in 2010 and now in 2013 they were saying it would be completed in December 2014. He expressed the hope that the minister concerned would extend the deadline date even in 2014. A female MPA pointed out wrong answers by the department. She said they had shown total state land in tehsil Arifwala as 314 acres while that given on lease was 598 acres. She asked the speechless minister to explain the situation. After receiving a chit from the gallery, the minister claimed the remaining land belonged to the federal government. However, the speaker directed him to look into the matter and report back to him.