LAHORE - Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah yesterday left the provincial legislature virtually ‘indisposed’ by his absence from the House at the time of legislation.
In a surprise move on Wednesday, the Treasury withdrew its official business from the day’s agenda when the Speaker was about to invite a Minister to move two bills in the Assembly for its adoption.
Punjab Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Punjab Technical education and Vocational Training Authority (Amendment) Bill were on the agenda of day’s business.
It transpired later on that it happened because the Law Minister was not available to respond to the amendments moved by the Opposition.
This only proves his indispensability for the government which cannot do a simple legislation without him.
Though it is not a routine practice in the Assembly, but it happens sometimes that government takes out its business from the agenda to be taken up for some other day. But it is mainly because either the House is not in quorum or the government wants to review the legislation either on its own or on the demand of the Opposition. None of the above reasons existed on Wednesday to justify the government’s decision to withdraw the official business.
As the House took up last adjournment motion, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture Rana Arshad approached Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal and whispered in his ears.
A few seconds later, the Speaker skipped the next agenda item, the legislation, and moved on to the last one on the list regarding general discussion on agriculture.
He did not give any reason for this sudden change in order of the Assembly business which surprised everybody in the House and the media persons in the Press Gallery.
It was also too much for Opposition Leader Mehmoodur Rashid who objected to the move, stating that House should take up the business according to the agenda. Speaker said that legislation could be done afterwards. It was only on insistence by the Opposition leader that he divulged that Treasury has withdrawn the legislation for some other day.
In a rare show of unity, legislators from the two sides of the aisle were unanimous on the point that government should stop import of vegetables and fruits from India and other countries to protect the interests of farmers who were not getting adequate return of their produce.
They were critical of government’s import policy which, according to them, benefitted only the farmers of other countries. Tariq Bajwa, Asif Bajwa, Ahsan Riaz Fatyana, Sh. Alauddin, Dr Nousheen Hamid, Dr Wasim Akhtar and Riaz Shahid participated in the discussion among others. All except Alauddin supported formation of a House Committee to look into the problems facing the farmers and to formulate recommendations for the provincial and the Federal governments.
Earlier, during the question hour, the joint Opposition staged a walk out from the Assembly alleging that government was diverting funds from health projects to the Orange Line. It was something unusual. The Opposition seldom exercises this option in this particular time which is meant for accountability of the Minister concerned. Also, most of the questions to be answered by the Minister are from the Opposition benches.
The Opposition members came out of the House and gathered at Charring Cross to register their protest against the Orange Train. They rejoined the proceedings after 45 minutes.
The Assembly also witnessed another unusual happening on its floor yesterday when a Treasury member Mian Tahir walked out in protest against the attitude of Parliamentary Secretary for Health Imran Nazir. Main Tahir wanted to have an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary about the time frame within which the new emergency ward at Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology would become operational and the vacant posts of surgeons and specialists, 87 in number, are filled.
The PML-N legislator told the House that a philanthropist had extended the emergency ward creating space for 50 new beds.
He had also installed the equipment and machinery there but bureaucracy was creating hurdles to make it operational, he added.
The Parliamentary Secretary assured him that he would look into the matter but fell short of giving any time frame to do the needful.
To another question by Faiza Malik of PPP, the Parliamentary Secretary admitted that no new dialysis machine has been purchased for Services Hospital Lahore since 2004. In response to another question by Nabeela Hakim Ali, he also acknowledged that 80 per cent senior positions including that of the MS were lying vacant at DHQ Hospital, Sahiwal.

READ MORE: Going not-so green