LAHORE - The Opposition and the Treasury yesterday made heated debate in the Punjab Assembly on the issue of placing names of the PPP top leaders on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Annoyed by Treasure reply and alleged defiance of the Supreme Court direction for excluding the name of Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, and PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from the List, the PPP members staged a protest walk out of the Assembly.

The Session with Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari in the chair, also formed a committee to rationalize the excessive fees being charged by the private schools in the province. The House also took questions on Transport, Zakat and Usher departments. The House was informed by the Minister that Lahore Orange-line Metro Train will be completed positively by July 31 next.

Taking floor on a point of order, PPP Member Hassan Murtaza alleged the government had disobeyed the Supreme Court order for taking out names of the PPP leaders from the ECL. He said Sindh is a federating unit and such like treatment with the Chief Minister of that province will not help strengthen the federation. At the same time, Murtaza said, the Provinces can also make things difficult if they too begin to defy the Federation orders. He alleged the PTI Ministers are fanning differences on the matter, and this trend is not helpful to the country.

He said record shows that the PPP had always respected the Court orders whether it was related to the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, removal of Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani from the premiership or case against former PPP Raja Pervez Ashraf who, he added, is todate appearing before the court. PML-N’s Smeeullah Khan said small provinces are getting wrong message from this conduct of the Centre. He said the PML-N stood with the small provinces and would join them to check the excesses of the PTI Government. He also took note of the heli case against the Prime Minister and said the PTI government is badly screaming on the issue. He also laid stress on finding out trail of money of Aleema Khan, the sister of PM Imran Khan, and said, benemi properties of Ms Aleema are also being unearthed. Aleema would have been in jail had her name been carrying the suffix of ‘Sharif’ or ‘Bhutto.’ He said Maryum Nawaz suffered jail allegedly for failing to show money trail but no action is being taken against Aleema Khan on a similar case. He said the PML-N is not afraid of accountability but that must not be done as political victimization.

In response, Provincial Minister Mian Mahmoodur Rashid told the House that a three-member committee has been set up to review the names for excluding from the ECL as well as to also decide whether the Supreme Court decision will be questioned before the Court of law. Mian Mahmoodur Rashid said billions of rupees have been laundered through fake bank accounts and the government has put its foot down not to spare anyone found guilty in the matter. He also made it clear that no more Sindh card will work and now only Pakistan card will do. The Minister said the Government was acting on the Supreme Court decision and accountability will proceed against the corrupt on merit and not on the desires of anyone. He said Zardari group and Omni Group looted billions of rupees of the nation and they will have to account for it.

 Responding to the questions on agenda, the Minister said the Orange line project will be completed in July 31next. The Project he said, has cost 1.22$ and claimed the life of 14 persons, and their legal heirs were compensated with Rs21.78lakh each. For the project, 1065kanal land was acquired. It was reported to the House that the former Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif undertook 40 foreign tours from May 2013 to May 2018 and paid the expenses from his pocket although public exchequer paid for the officials accompanied him to those visits.

To a question, Provincial Minister Shaukat Lelika said that the government has decided to undertake 10-year old audit of the Zakat and Usher department. He said a policy is also being framed to ensure availability of zakat strictly to the deserving persons. Bio matric system is also being introduced in this respect, he added. 

Further proceedings of the session have been adjourned to 3pm Monday.