LAHORE - Punjab Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed The Punjab Curriculum and Text Book Board (Amendment) Bill 2020. After the passage of the private bill presented by PML-Q’s Khadeeja Umar, contents relating to Islam will not be published in textbooks without prior approval from Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab. Expressing displeasure over absence of Minister for Food Abdul Aleem Khan and unsatisfactory replies from the parliamentary secretary, Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi delayed questions relating to Food Department.www

The session started one hour and 30 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair.

Besides taking up resolutions on agenda during private business, the House approved legislation aimed at checking inclusion of objectionable material in textbooks. Islamic content of history, Urdu literature and other subjects will not be published in textbooks until Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab approves, according to the bill.

As approved, the chair congratulated the House on the passage of the bill saying through the law it protected Khatme Nabuwwat and closed the door to evil being spread through books with reference to Islam.

“We want to protect future generations from the evil. This country has been built in the name of Islam and shall never allow desecration of the religion.”

Education Minister Murad Rass said that the issue of banned books had cropped up with the Punjab Textbook Board twice earlier and cases were registered against those responsible for publishing blasphemous material. He claimed that 30 committees in the department are working to scrutinize all the text books. The public, he said, can lodge complaints through WhatsApp, website and landline numbers. He said his department did not encompass reference books, which is under the purview of the law and home departments.

The chair responded that a complete study had been undertaken before going for the lawmaking as there had been daily conspiracies against sacred personalities of Islam and the law would curb these incidents in future.

The House passed resolutions demanding installation of water filtration plants in PP-185, steps for mental and physical protection of expecting mothers, for the construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam, and building a mausoleum of Hazrat Fatima Al-Zahra in Janat-ul-Baqi. Yet another was presented by Sikh minority member Ramesh Singh Arora condemning India for the 1984 attack on the Akal Takht, the holiest site of the Sikh nation, and demanded that all those involved in this heinous crime should be punished and the barbarism be declared as a national crime.

Earlier during question hour on food department, the chair delayed all the queries for another day, admonishing Rai Zahoor and officials of the department for wrong answers and lack of preparedness. He was also angry at absence of Minister Abdul Aleem Khan for skipping the proceedings on the excuse of having engagements at Islamabad despite knowing well in time that written questions about his department would be taken up on Tuesday.

He said the questions would be again taken up after the minister and department officials would come properly prepared to the House. The PML-N staged a token walkout to mark the completion of one-year imprisonment of Hamza Shahbaz in various accountability cases.

PML-N MPA Rana Mashhood lamented that not a single reference would be finalized by the National Accountability Bureau despite keeping behind the bars and interrogating Hamza for a year.

The walkout, he said, is a token protest against what he said was political revenge. Law Minister Raja Basharat defended the government in the imprisonment case, saying the opposition leader was sent to jail not under an executive order but on court orders.

He said Nawaz Sharif went abroad for treatment, which has not yet been started despite a lapse of over six months, and when the ex-prime minister is declared as fugitive the opposition resorts to sloganeering. The Speaker also remarked that the government has nothing to do with the Hamza Shahbaz case.

Meanwhile, the chair reprimanded the legislators not wearing face masks during the proceedings. Directing the MPAs to strictly follow the coronavirus SOPs, he said the virus won’t differentiate between treasury and opposition members and those not abiding by the SOPs must not come to the House. On completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till Friday (June 12) at 2pm.