LAHORE - The Opposition protested against the ‘attitude of deputy speaker towards pending questions with the suggestion of bringing fresh ones for detailed reply’ at the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday.

Even the law minister and the treasury legislators failed to convince Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari that satisfactory reply was right of every legislator. The session started one hour and 40 minutes behind the schedule with the deputy speaker in the chair.

During question hour on School Education, Higher Education and Special Education departments, PML-N legislator Mian Tahir exchanged harsh arguments with the chair after the later suggested going to the next question. The legislator insisted that minister Yasir Humayoun was misleading the House by giving wrong reply. He said that Government College University Faisalabad was actually a residential colony on Jhang Road. “He (minister) is misleading the House. I will bring a privilege motion against the minister”, he said.

PML-N legislator Waris Kalu suggested the chair to make the minister duty bound of giving reply to the satisfaction of the member before going to the next question. “You pend question at own and force the members to move ahead with the agenda”, he said, adding, the opposition wanted smooth proceedings but “you (the chair) are spoiling the atmosphere of the House”. Treasury legislator Saeed Akbar Niwani also supported the stance of the Opposition, saying question was right of every member and it was responsibility of the chair to ensure proper answer from the treasury.

Law Minister Raja Basharat said that the chair could direct the minister for satisfactory reply to a question. He suggested moving ahead with good parliamentary traditions.  The chair even snubbed the law minister, saying he was well aware about the assembly rules and own powers, triggering protest from the Opposition.

Minister Schools Education Murad Ras said that eight member committee has been constituted for formulating a policy for uniform education system for public sector/private educational institutions and seminaries. He said that the proposed draft would soon be presented in the House for legislation and new system would be implemented by 2020. To a supplementary question, he said that Danish Schools were white elephant but could not be closed due to enrolment of thousands of students.

During general discussion on food and agriculture, the Opposition legislators come hard on the government, saying it had done nothing in 100 days except befooling the hapless masses by presenting a rosy picture.

Opening debate, PML-N’s Sardar Awais Leghari stressed the need of a strict action against the sugar millers including cancellation of permits and abolition of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association maneuvering the parliament for exploitation of poor growers. He regretted that poor growers were on roads for due rights while the rulers coming to power with the slogans of eradicating injustice, corruption and nepotism were turning a blind eye and giving a deaf ear to them. He said government had refrained from reviewing support price of key crops which was a great injustice to the growers. He alleged government was not serious in creating southern Punjab, adding that southern Punjab’s share in GDP was 60 percent and its 80 per cent people were employed in agriculture produce. He also lamented that not a single rupee was being spent on agriculture research, seeds and quality, which was the main reason for keeping the country backward and deprived.

PML-N’s Malik Mohammad Ahmad Khan said growers were not given due attention while formulating policies. He said that prices of inputs like fertilizers reached new heights, no new seeds for cane and wheat, and the packages given were just peanuts. He said growers were protesting in Lahore for the same old demands. He said even the potato crop was not being sold for various reasons. He asked why the sword of financial discipline was always struck on growers.

Provincial minister Ch Zaheeruddin suggested giving bank cheques to cane growers instead of CPR. If any cheque was dishonored within one year, he said, cases should be registered against the sugar mills owners. He said peasants were kept deprived during the last ten years.

PTI’s Faisal Hayat said Sugar mafia grew stronger during the PML-N regime. He said that cane growers were paid Rs 130-140 against the support price of Rs 180 per maund. He said Jahangir Tareen’s sugar mill paid Rs 180 per maund to growers. He said PTI government was increasing the subsidy for growers.

Provincial minister Sardar Hasnain Bahadur Dareshak said cruelty was being meted out to the cane growers who had been begging before the sugar millers for their dues and to lift their cane but were denied both.

He said previously cotton was cash crop but government policies downgraded it from its status. Potato was also a main crop but government was ignorant. He said governments all over the world provide subsidies to cash crops for the benefit of economy but rulers had been hostile towards this vital sector.

Makhdoom Usman , Ghayasuddin, Manazir Hussain Ranjha and Ch Iqbal Gujjar also took part in the debate. The chair adjourned the session till Thursday (today) at 11am.