LAHORE  -    The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday amended rules of procedure to give way for forming third public accounts committee (PAC-III) solely for dealing with local governments, amid rumpus from the opposition.

The opposition legislators stood up, tore apart copies of agenda and chanted go speaker go slogans to protest against ‘partial attitude of the chair and imposing amendment without listening to their viewpoint’.

During the proceedings on question hour on school education, Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi assumed the charge which the opposition later alleged that it was aimed at facilitating the treasury to pass amendments in haste without listening to the opposite viewpoint.

On the conclusion of question hour, the chair allowed Law Minister Raja Basharat to move a resolution for relaxing rules to take up item not on the agenda. After the house allowed relaxation in the rules, the minister presented amendments for enabling constitution of PAC-III for dealing with the audit of local governments pending since 2001. The fiery opposition legislators strongly protested against the chair for ‘giving ruling of passage of amendments even before listening to the no’.

Skillful and shrewd politician, however, managed to calm down the opposition.

“First you all should try to understand that the third PAC should have been formed more than a decade back. You are making hue and cry without any reason. You will get the credit of doing this now. It was just amendment in rules. You all will be taken on board and given due representation in the PAC III”, the chair remarked.

Former speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal said that not listening to the opposition was not suited to the custodian of the house.

“You announced passage of amendment in haste without listening to the opposition”, he said while raising question that what was harm in listening to the opposition when the same amendments could be passed through majority.

Basharat criticized the former speaker for not amending rules in the past, saying the present regime was doing what should had been done well before.

“It was your job to amend the rules. You remained silent or were not allowed to do this. Prior to this, the present regime amended rules relating to production orders of detained legislators. Now you should not create hurdles when we are doing work that should have been done in the past”, the minister said.

PML-N’s Samiullah Khan accused the chair of partiality, saying the opposition smelled rat when he (Parvez Elahi) took charge from the Deputy Speaker. He raised question on the fate of third PAC when even the first has yet to be formed. Implicitly referring to the standoff on giving chairmanship of PAC I to Hamza Shehbaz, he said that there should be no discrimination. If NAB cases was the issue, he said, all such persons whether speaker or ministers should resign from their respective offices. In the same breath, he suggested adopting pattern used in the National Assembly to resolve the issue.

On the accusation of the Opposition that Prime Minister chairing cabinet meetings and dictating the government was interference in provincial matters, the treasury legislators said that it was his (PM’s) right to guide party and it was also a routine in the previous regimes.

The chair grilled the opposition while quoting incidents of ex-PM forcing the CM to change decisions whether it was awarding tickets for Senate or electing heads of local governments in more than a dozen districts including Lahore.  Basharat said that it was right of the PM to convene meetings to guide the party and the cabinet.

“Your leader is not ready to meet you. We have no objection if you go to meet him even on daily basis”, he remarked that caused uproar in the House.

Earlier, Minister Education Dr Murad Ras continued ignoring chits sent from the officials gallery during question hour. On the suggestion of the legislators to read chits for giving the right answer, the minister insisted that he did not need such things. In a lighter vein, the chair suggested sometime such chits have good things.

PPP’s Makhdoom Usman Mehmood criticised the leading opposition party for huge spending on Lahore. He said that out of Rs2400 billion allocated for PSDP, Rs1400 billion were spent on Lahore. Referring to the question of PML-N’s Hina Pervaiz Butt relating to absence of toilets at 29 girls schools, he said the students could use this facility available at Metro Bus or Orange Line Train.

The law minister presented audit reports of six projects which were referred to PAC-II with the direction to submit report within one year.