LAHORE-The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution supporting democracy and democratic institutions in the country.

“The House pledges to thwart any anticipated conspiracy against democracy and democratic institutions and also supports timely election of political leaders”, said the resolution.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal allowed Opposition Leader Raja Raiz to move the resolution by suspending the Assembly rules of procedure.

 “The House supports continuity of democracy and strengthening of democratic institutions and shows full confidence in the Election Commission of Pakistan”, the resolution said. It also endorsed supremacy of law and Constitution in the country.

It would have been a unanimously passed resolution had Samina Khawar Hayat of PML-Q not voiced a vote of dissent. Her opposition to the resolution was partial: she endorsed the part supporting democracy but did not approve of the text expressing confidence in the Election Commission. Though the Chair did not allow her to speak, but she uttered with full-throated voice that her party did not have confidence in the four provincial election commissioners which must be changed. 

Earlier, Opposition Leader Raja Riaz on a point of order drew Speaker’s attention towards nomination of two Punjab Assembly members for their inclusion in the National Commission on new provinces.

He said that the commission was about to submit its report in the National Assembly and the Speaker must nominate two members to represent Punjab in the parliamentary body. Deputy Opposition Leader Shaukat Mehmood Basra also made an attempt to speak on the subject, but the Chair refused to listen to him. 

Rana Arshad of PML-N said that Punjab Assembly resolutions had supported restoration of Bahawalpur State besides creation of another province in south Punjab; whereas, the PPP was interested only in one province.

The PML-N, he added, was in favour of more provinces on administrative grounds, but they should also be created in other provinces.

Ali Haider Noor Niazi of MMA alleged that PPP-led government   intended to include Mianwali district in the proposed south Punjab province without seeking consent of the people. “Government should seek sense of the people of Mianwali before taking such a decision”, he asserted. 

As the session began at 5:10 pm, the Assembly also witnessed usual commotion when some of the members got emotional on the issue of Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement calling Dr Tahirul Qadri a ‘padre’. A minority MPA from PML-N Tahir Khalil Sindhu raised this issue on a point of order.

“The minister has hurt the sentiments of Christian community. “He should apologise for his irresponsible statement to cool down the tempers”, he demanded on the Assembly floor.

A minority MPA from PPP, Pervaiz Rafique , however, termed the demand as unjustified.

“The sentiments of the community were also hurt on earlier occasions, but Mr Sindhu did not speak at that time”, he maintained.

His remarks earned displeasure of some PML-N lawmakers who accused Pervaiz Rafique of being disloyal to his community. While the PPP legislator was still holding the floor, they started giving vent to their anger without waiting for their turn. 

The Speaker tried to maintain order in the House, but in vain. At this, Opposition Leader Raja Riaz took the floor and tendered apology on Rehman Malik’s behalf. Order was restored in the House. On completion of Monday’s agenda, the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.