LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Thursday passed the Local Government Bill, 2013, amid a stiff protest from the opposition parties led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The opposition strongly condemned the passage of the bill and staged a walkout, boycotting the proceedings. “Made in haste,” Mehmoodur Rasheed, the opposition leader, said of the legislation.
“This piece of legislation is against the will of the people who elected us [lawmakers],” he asserted, and said they would challenge the bill in the court. The PTI leader also complained that the opposition did not get a chance to speak on the amendments it had moved.
Till August 26 there was sufficient time to debate the bill (now law), he insisted, and went on to say the government intentionally passed the bill.
Other opposition members – Dr Waseem Akhtar, Aslam Iqbal and Arif Abbasi –refused to accept the local government bill in its present form, and asked the chair, Rana Muhammad Iqbal, to declare Wednesday’s House proceeding null and void for a review of the bill.
The speaker, who had set the House to motion two hours behind its scheduled time, did not accept their contention, maintaining opposition was given suitable time to speak its mind on the new law, but it showed no interest in the legislation and resorted to boycott of proceedings. “The rules don’t allow adjournment of the proceedings if anyone has to go for his personal work,” argued Rana Iqbal.
But PTI’s Rasheed, saying that no legislation should be made in haste in future, walked out of the House along with other party leaders against what he called the attitude of the speaker. Rana Iqbal asked them to stay, but they did not listen.  They protesting lawmakers sat in the staircase of the assembly building and chanted slogans against the government and the legislation. They were determined to continue with their strike.
Rasheed appreciated a treasury member, Chaudhry Tahir Sindhu, for suggesting changes to the bill, and wished these amendments had been incorporated into the bill.
Meanwhile, the House also prayed for the mother of former member Mian Khursheed and for a soldier who died on the line of control from Indian shelling.