LAHORE - In much contrast to the perplexed proceedings of Parliament’s joint session, the Punjab Assembly calmly welcomed the leader of Opposition, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheedm of PTI, and all other members of assembly who have rejoined the assemblies after an agreement with government.

PTI had disassociated itself from national and provincial assemblies last September over the issue of alleged rigging in last general elections. Now after government’s assurances to form a judicial commission that will probe the electoral irregularities, PTI has backtracked and returned to their seats in assemblies.

The Treasury benches loudly clapped for the PTI members on their arrival, while the latter waved to reciprocate their sentiments.

Acting Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani said the resignations tendered by PTI became ineffective after their return to the House.

The PTI members also kept it low and remained careful not to upset the applecart set up for their return. However, Mian Mahmudur Rashid, in his speech, noted the Treasury must have missed them and his party would continue its fight inside and outside the House.

During the official proceedings, the House amended the Punjab Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) bill to increase job quota for the disabled from two to three per cent; the Lahore Arts Council Bill to omit the expression in section 8 that ‘no non-official members shall be appointed for consecutive terms’; and for the establishment of the Punjab Social Protection Authority to provide comprehensive, efficient, effective and gender equitable social protection system to the poor and vulnerable in the province.

Mopping up the debate on the Punjab budget 2015-16, Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba said the law and order, social sector development, health and education are being given top priority in the upcoming budget. He said the government is crafting pro-poor budget with facilities in health and education.

“Additional funds will be allocated in the budget for setting up hospitals at Tehsil and district headquarters, for health insurance scheme of the poor, expanding scope of 1122, and setting up another 162 emergency units in tehsil hospitals,” he added.

Rs 13billion for clean water will be earmarked while Rs 400million for washroom facilities in the rural areas. Additional funds will be allocated for generating energy through small hydel dams, solar, wind, bio, coal and other means. The 100mw power generation plant will be operational next month and the next year will see gradual and consistent increase in the power production, the finance minister told the house.

Former law minister Rana Sanaullah, in his welcome speech, said their comeback was a result of consensus and a mutual agreement acceptable to PTI and government.

“PTI’s return will strengthen democracy and the institutions. Their comeback has sealed the note that change can only come through the power of ballot, not the agitation and protest politics,” Sanaullah stated.

Minister for Labour and Manpower Raja Ashfaq Sarwar also greeted the PTI and promised to honour the settlement both parties agreed upon.

Mian Mahmud Rashid termed his party’s return “victory of whole nation”.

The chair prorogued the session indefinitely.