Opposition begins emerging from within Treasury

PA debate on annual budget

LAHORE    –   In absence of the Opposition which is having its own sessions at the Assembly chambers, the Treasury in the Punjab Assembly saw the very first sign of an ‘opposition’ emerging from within the party ambit during the general debate on the annual budget on Monday.    It happened when the PML-N’s Azma Zahid Bokhari took the floor to speak her mind on the provincial budget.  Much to the astonishment of many in the House, she pointed out the absence of ministers from the treasury benches. She said most of the ministers were not present at a time when the members were giving suggestions to readjust the budgetary proposals for various departments. She asked the presiding chairman, Khalil Tahir Sindhu, to ensure attendance of the ministers during the budget debate. Also, when she talked about the poor law and order situation and the presence of many addicts on different points on Canal Road, Lahore, she noticed that no officer from the police or home department was there in the official gallery to take notes. “It is a tragedy that there is no representative of police, home department to listen when a law and order issue is being discussed in the House,” she grumbled, assuming the role of a lawmaker speaking from the opposition benches. The points agitated by a treasury member during the budget debate on Monday are usually raised by the opposition members mostly for political point-scoring. It is but natural that when the real opposition is not present for a long time, the voices of dissent from within which otherwise remain silent find ways to fill in the gaps. As she talked of addicts’ presence on a particular city road, she said the use of drugs had already done a great harm to the country. “Now the society needs drug-free people. Pakistan needs sane persons now.”

Sindhu directed the authorities concerned to make Lahore an addiction free place. “An addict sold out Pakistan. Now it is feared they might do the same with the entire society,” the chair remarked.

Meanwhile, ‘a stranger in the house’ baffled the women legislators during the budget debate. Surely, it was not Atta Ullah Tarar whose presence had irked the Opposition members on the first day of the budget session at the Assembly chambers. This stranger in the house was actually a cat who swiftly made her way into the Hall and seemed rushing towards the women’s side. There was an urgent call for her expulsion but the chair had no ‘sergeant-at-arms’ at his disposal to do the needful. Finding herself at the wrong place at the wrong time, the poor cat made a hasty exit from the back door as she felt noisy voices chasing her from behind.

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