LAHORE - Through a resolution moved jointly by the Treasury and the Opposition, members of the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday pleaded their case for issuance of blue passports for them and senior officers of the provincial legislature.  

The resolution, moved by Law Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, also demanded of the Federal government to issue diplomatic passports to the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker separately. The chair suspended Assembly rules of procedure to take up the resolution out of turn.

In a rare show of unity, the members approved it with one voice ignoring the political divide in the House. As the Minister read out the text on the Assembly floor, he used the words “blue passports for members of the Provincial Assemblies’, implying thereby that Punjab Assembly members were making such a demand on behalf of their fellow legislators in other provincial legislatures as well.

It may be recalled that Punjab Assembly had also passed a similar resolution in March this year with the only difference that previous one did not mention a diplomatic passport for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker separately.  The KPK Assembly has already passed a resolution on the subject.

Diplomats, senior bureaucrats, judges of superior judiciary and members of the National Assembly and the Senate already have this entitlement.

The members of all the Provincial Assemblies feel deprived of this privilege as they have been raising their voice in this regard in their respective Assemblies in the past.

It is relevant to mention here that Pakistan is in agreement with 70 countries where the holders of blue and diplomatic passports are issued visas upon their arrival at the airports. They also get preferential treatment on arrival such as exemption from body search and checking of their luggage.

The memories of a blue passport scandal during Shaukat Aziz’s tenure and later during the PPP government are still fresh in peoples’ mind. 

The ex-PM had allowed retired bureaucrats and former Ministers to carry blue passports while some 2,000 people were issued such passports by the then Interior Minister Rehman Malik who were not entitled to have the blue books. 

It was private members day in the Assembly on Tuesday. Through another resolution, the members called upon the Punjab and Federal Governments to chalk out strategy to save the youth from the menace of drug addition. Some eight million people in Pakistan are stated to be drug addicts according to a rough estimate.

The Assembly also recommended to the Federal government to clamp ban on showing video clips of raped women repeatedly on various news channels to protect their honour and dignity.

In the absence of a strong Opposition, two Treasury members, Sheikh Alauddin and Waris Kallu took it upon themselves to play this role by criticising performance of the Punjab Assembly. Alauddin lamented that no adjournment motion was allowed to be discussed in the present Assembly which strengthened the hands of provincial bureaucracy.

Waris Kallu said that Assembly should perform the role of a watch dog on the provincial departments but it has not been empowered to do so.

Sardar Shahabuddin of PPP walked out of the House in protest when he was not allowed by the chair to speak on his adjournment motion. He was not satisfied with the written answer in response to his motion read out by the Law Minister. He was asked to bring a privilege motion instead to speak his mind.