LAHORE - The tiny Opposition on Friday played a big role in the Punjab Assembly by blocking the Treasury from tabling Punjab Fair Representation of Women Bill 2014 on empowerment of women and their necessary representation in every government department.

The lack of quorum was the instrument in the Opposition’s hand for preventing the presentation of the bill which the government wanted to get passed the next day (March 8) when the world is observing Women Day. 

As the quorum remained incomplete despite bell ringing for over 20 minutes, Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani was left with no other option but to put off the session till Saturday afternoon when the House will hold a special sitting corresponding with the international Women Day.

The House started proceedings of the 7th session about 140 minutes beyond the scheduled time.

The House took up questions on Home Department wherein Parliamentary Secretary Mahar Ejaz Ahmad faced great embarrassment on account of incorrect answers on the police department or no answers at all to the questions filed more than six months back. The confused gestures of the Parliamentary Secretary amused the House and it was not less than the Chair himself which came to his rescue almost every time by way either skipping to the next question or pending the one in hand.

However it was notable about Ejaz that he candidly admitted incorrect supply of answers from the police department and promised to take action on it and let the House know on the next session what it was. The shift of blame to the department worked to give nerves to Ejaz and cover up his own lack of preparedness.

The PS appeared blank on the face when Treasury member Raheela Khadim Hussain asked about difference between a robbery and dacoity, and he was further put down when she grilled him on the huge difference between the number of dacoities written on the answer sheet and those expressed by the PS.

Opposition member Mian Aslam questioned about the land in Samanabad where a police station was proposed to be set up when this piece of land was a play ground in the master plan.

The PS did not have a precise answer so he saved his skin by promising inquiry on the matter.

Later when the Treasury intended to lay two bills, Arif Abbasi rose on a point of order to speak on the alleged corruption and overspendings for removing power pylons from Murree Road for the construction of Metro Bus project.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah checked him and replied that Abbasi was levelling baseless allegations and if he had proofs, he should come up with it. The deputy speaker asked Abbasi to sit down but he continued to speak loudly which forced the speaker to order switching off his microphone.

Meanwhile, Rana Sanaullah tired to table two bills amidst loud shouting by Arif Abbasi and other Opposition members. He had only laid down the first bill titled Punjab Public Private Partnership Ordinance 2014 when Arif Abbasi walked out of the House amid commotion. At this, Ahsan Riaz Fatiana and Mian Aslam Iqbal pointed out the lack of quorum, when the law minister was reading out the first bill. The quorum was found short of required number.

Earlier, the deputy speaker directed the government to resolve the issue of making proper arrangements for allowing the private TV channels live coverage of the Punjab Assembly proceedings. Speaking on adjournment motion on the issue, PML-N member Sheikh Allauddin said it was a matter of sorrow that the Sindh Assembly proceedings were aired by private TV channels but the Punjab Assembly, representative of 100 million people, was deprived of the right. He said that it was the right of the voters and general public to see what their representatives were doing inside the House.

Rana Sanaullah replied that the government had always supported private TV channels to cover the proceedings in principle but the House building lacked the required space to accommodate about three to four dozen cameramen and other staff. He said during his negotiations with the representatives of media, it was decided to install modern devices which would allow live coverage for channels without bringing in their cameras. He said that the government had already ordered preparing feasibility on the issue and if budget exceeded the limit of Assembly’s allocation, the government was prepared to provide the remaining funds.

The speaker ordered the minister to resolve the issue during the current session.