LAHORE   -   Provincial Minister for Colonies Fayyazul Hasan Chohan has virtually become a cause of provocation for the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly.

Since the inception of the present legislature, it has almost become an essential ritual for the Opposition to interrupt Mr Chohan with shouts whenever he stands up to speak.

It was amid heated debate involving the opposition and treasury benches on production orders of Assembly members that Chohan decided to dare the Opposition. He hurled personal attacks on the PML-N leadership and also uttered indecent remarks about the agitating lawmakers. But the Opposition made his voice inaudible by making noise through sloganeering. The House echoed with the slogan: “Go Niazi Go”.

During Monday’s Assembly session, Mr Chohan made a few more futile attempts to speak but the Opposition howled him down every down he rose up from his seat. 

Chohan had to lose his ministry four months back following his offensive remarks about the Hindu community. On occasions, he also arouses ire of the journalists mainly because of his uncontrolled tongue.  

Two interesting observations were made about Chohan on Monday after he ended his speech amid strong shouting from the Opposition members. One came from the Acting Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari and the other from the law minister.

Deputy Speaker said:”Chohan sab what kind of connection do you have with the Opposition? They all stand up in protest and shout whenever you to stand up to make a speech”. Chohan smiled but kept quite.    

Law Minister remarked that Opposition members get ‘electrified’ whenever Chohan stands up to speak. Law minister also ‘warned’ the Opposition, in a lighter vein though, that if they did not come to the point (day’s agenda), they [Treasury] would give the floor to Fayyaz Chohan. “Whenever we want you to make noise [to distract you from the real issues], we will ask Fayyaz Chohan to speak”.

Mr Chohan was responsible for much of the uproar raised by the Opposition yesterday on the issue of production orders of Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz Sharif.      

As the House debated the issue of production orders of the Opposition leader on Monday, Ch Parvez Elahi was conspicuous by his absence. Many said he did not chair the sitting by intention only to keep himself aloof from the controversy. It would not have been easy for Parvez Elahi to listen to Opposition’s criticism on the issue. The reason being that in the recent past, Speaker Parvez Elahi has been taking credit for the legislation regarding the production orders.

Interestingly, Sardar Dost Mazari on Monday chaired the sitting as Acting Speaker despite the fact that Governor Ch Sarwar had assumed the charge on Monday morning [after his return from UK late Sunday night] and Parvez Elahi stood reverted to his position as Speaker by this time.

As the Assembly secretariat did not de-notify Dost Mohammad Mazari as the Acting Speaker, this gave him the legal cover to preside the sitting in his acting capacity.

Also, there was no debate in Punjab Assembly yesterday on the issues of law & order and the price hike, as laid down in Order of the Day. 

Making use of its sufficient numbers in the Assembly, the PML-N –led opposition had convened the session to discuss the two subjects at this forum. But it did not utter a word on these issues during the entire proceedings.

On the onset of the Assembly proceedings, the PML-N legislators brought up another issue which they thought was even more important than the rising inflation and the law & order situation. It pertained to issuance of production orders of Opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz Sharif and MPA Khawaja Salman Rafique to enable them attend the Assembly session. 

Led by former Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal, the opposition members told the Acting Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari that House was not in order due to absence of the Opposition leader. Rana Iqbal argued that Hamza Shehbaz should not be denied the right to lead the Opposition and to represent his constituency in the House. Rana Mashhood remarked that this House was being run under dictation from the prime minister. “We won’t allow a selected prime minister to dictate the business of this House”, he averred.

Acting Speaker told the agitating PML-N legislators that it was Speaker’s prerogative to issue the production orders of any member. He read out section 79-A of the Assembly Rules of Procedure to establish his point. It reads:  

“The Speaker may, of his own motion or on the written request of a member in custody on the charge of a non-bailable offence, summon the member to attend a sitting or sittings of the Assembly [or a Committee of which he is a member], if the Speaker considers the presence of such member necessary”.

Acting Speaker also made it clear that no discretion had been made in this regard since the production orders of Sibtain Khan [a Treasury MPA] had also not been issued for this session.

 Law Minister in his speech also explained to the Opposition that the words “May” and “If” in section 79-A clearly defined that it was not mandatory on the Speaker to issue production orders of a member during every session. He contended that it was up to the Speaker to decided if the presence of a member was required on a particular day or not.

Rana Mashhood, however, was not willing to accept law minister’s interpretation of the law. He insisted that good traditions of this House should be followed as the law regarding production orders of Assembly members was passed unanimously by the entire House.