LAHORE            -      Punjab Assembly on Tuesday witnessed rare scene of pending entire question hour due to absence of Secretary Food in the official’s gallery.  The PA was told that the government was considering opening  marriage halls with  Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) after Eidul Azha.  The session started one hour and 50 minutes behind the scheduled time with Panel of Chairman Mian Muhammad Shafi in the chair.

Minister for Food Aleem Khan was there in the House to respond to the queries of lawmakers.  On a point of order, PML-N’s Khalil Tahir Sandhu drew attention of the chair towards absence of Secretary Food from the official’s gallery, saying there was ruling of the Speaker that question-hour could not be started in the absence of Secretary of the concerned department. He said that the Special Secretary was supposed to come here if Secretary himself was busy in official work.

He said that the situation suggested that the bureaucracy was not ready to work with the PTI government. Food Minister Aleem Khan said that the Secretary was preparing for a meeting with Prime Minister.  He said that the Secretary has taken prior permission.  Mian Muhammad Shafi said that no business was important than proceedings of this august house.  He directed the assembly secretariat to write a letter to Chief Secretary in this regard.  He also adjourned the Question-Hour due to the absence of Secretary Food.

Aleem Khan also tendered apology in the House over the absence of his department’s secretary. Law Minister Raja Basharat said  that the government was likely to open marriage halls under SOPs after Eid ul Azha.  PML-N’s Muneeb-ul-Haq highlighted the pathetic condition of the marriage hall owners as their business was closed due to COVID-19 for last four months.

“The miseries of the people are increasing day-by-day and it has become difficult for them to survive.  Government should give exact date of reopening the marriage halls,” he said.  Tens of thousands of people were associated with this business and therefore the government must resolve this issue, he said.  Raja Basharat said that Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal was in contact with the representatives of Marriage Hall Association.

He said the government was planning to open the marriage halls under SOPs after Eid. PMLN’s Kanwal Liaqat said that the government issued a notification to seal mosques which neither installed CCTV cameras nor hired security guards.  She said that closure of mosques would creat unrest.  Basharat clarified that the government would not seal any mosque.  On completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till Wednesday (today) at 2pm.