Parallel Assembly Sessions

The deadlock in the Punjab Assembly between the PML-N-led government and the opposition carried over into the third day on Wednesday, which raises serious concerns about how the province is being held hostage over partisan disagreements. As a result of this, two parallel sessions were held on Wednesday as the government decided to convene the budget session at the Aiwan-i-Iqbal, chaired by Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari where the PML-N-led government of Punjab presented its annual budget.
This is perhaps the first time that parallel sessions have been held, making a mockery of the democratic and constitutional rules of business. This is of course quite reminiscent of when a session was held by the PML-N at a hotel in Lahore to elect Hamza Shahbaz as the CM due to the PTI’s disruptive tactics.
The Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi is sticking to his demand of having the inspector general of police (IGP) first tender an apology to him and withdraw all cases lodged against the PTI and PML-Q workers and parliamentarians, in connection with the chaotic April 16 session. In addition to this, the opposition members are also demanding the presence of the chief secretary in order to receive an explanation over the treatment meted out to PTI workers on May 25 during the long march towards Islamabad.
These are of course tangential issues that have nothing to do with the agenda of the budget session, but the situation is now becoming untenable and the Punjab government will have to seek an end to this stalemate. The developments this week have illustrated that the political crisis in Punjab is likely to continue and that the opposition is willing to go to all lengths to bring down the present set-up and force early elections, even if it comes at a significant cost to the economy and people.
Perhaps the PML-N leadership should try to see if a compromise can be reached with the speaker, and reports do suggest that the government was open to being flexible regarding certain demands. This would be a sign of maturity on part of the PML-N leadership and will also serve the interests of the country at large. The opposition too should introspect and perhaps realise that such unconstitutional actions will come back to haunt them in the future.

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