LAHORE  -   It is nearly impossible for the Treasury to convince and satisfy the Opposition when the two sides are locked in a debate inside the assembly. The Opposition would never accept government’s point of view on any issue nonetheless it is true and logical. Same is true of the Treasury. 

Generally, all parliamentary parties in a legislature use this forum for political point scoring. Any debate taking place inside the house is never meant to come to the common ground on any subject.

Punjab Assembly, however, proved all this wrong during its Thursday’s sitting. The Treasury played smart and dragged the Opposition on its page on the issue of Nawaz Sharif’s cardiac treatment. 

Speaker Parvez Elahi, Law Minister Raja Basharat and Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid made the Opposition agree on the point that government and the Opposition will sit together to sort out the matter. There was no walkout or protest and no further argument. The two ministers in their speeches sounded so convincing that the Opposition was left with no choice but to agree on the proposal coming from the speaker. A joint committee comprising members from both the Opposition and the Treasury will meet to decide how to proceed further on the issue of Nawaz Sharif’s treatment in Pakistan.

Earlier, on the outset of proceedings, the PML-N-led Opposition agitated their concern about the ill-health of their leader in Kot Lakhpat Jail. It had come to the house with the intent to build a narrative that government was creating obstacles in his treatment.

Three PML-N legislators-Mohammad Ahmad Khan, Rana Muhammad Iqbal and Mazhar Iqbal- painted a gloomy picture of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s deteriorating health and tried to establish the point that government was not taking the illness of a three-time prime minister seriously.

In a bid to prepare grounds for Sharif’s treatment abroad, Mazhar Iqbal told the house that electro-physiology facility was not available in any health facility in Pakistan. However, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid proved him wrong by her revelation that this facility was available in Al-Shifa Hospital at Islamabad. She also gave assurance that Punjab government was ready to make arrangements for Nawaz Sharif’s treatment at Islamabad if he wanted to be shifted there.

Law Minister Raja Basharat assured the house that Punjab government was ready to provide treatment to ex-prime minister at any health facility under the government. He even offered to make travelling and lodging arrangements for Mian Nawaz Sharif’s doctor at London if he wanted to come to Pakistan. “And, if he could not come, he could be made ‘available’ in the hospital through video conference,” the minister reassured the Opposition.

Also, it happened for the first in Punjab Assembly that a sitting had to be adjourned [till next day] only because of an administrative secretary who was supposed to be present in the official gallery. According to the Rules of Assembly Procedure, it is mandatory for the finance secretary to be present in the house during a pre-budget debate.

“Today’s sitting is being adjourned prematurely just because of one person,” declared the speaker. He also directed the law minister to ensure presence of concerned secretaries at the time when the house takes up business relating to their departments.

Moreover, the house witnessed a rare but interesting scene when the speaker was about to adjourn the sitting. Wearing black gown, Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari stood very close to speaker’s podium waiting for Parvez Elahi to vacate the chair. It was pre-decided that deputy speaker would chair the part of proceedings regarding the pre-budget debate. The speaker did leave the podium but after the announcement to adjourn the sitting and both had to walk out of the house together.