LAHORE – Chanting slogans in favour of the Southern Punjab province, the Opposition members on Monday halted Punjab Assembly proceedings by surrounding the Speaker’s podium after the latter refused to oblige them on the issue of nominating two assembly members for the National Commission on New Provinces.

As the session started at 5:50 pm after a delay of two hours and 50 minutes, Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz stood on a point of order to complain that the chair had not sent two names to the National Assembly Speaker for inclusion in the National Commission on New Provinces despite lapse of 15 days.

He said nobody could stop the creation of the Southern Punjab province and the delaying tactics by the PML-N would prove be of no use. Raja’s utterances came like a red rag to the bull, because the treasury members created uproar in the House by raising anti-Zardari slogans in an attempt to halt his speech. Thereafter, the House echoed with slogans against and in favour of Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

Earlier, Raja had to face embarrassment for his inability to choose appropriate words. He started his speech by saying that contrary to the predictions of political stooges, the prime minister had appeared before the Supreme Court.

Law Minister Rana Sana Uallah interrupted him to ‘set the record straight’. He pointed out that Raja Riaz was calling his party’s former PM Yusuf Raza Gilani a political stooge because he was the first person to say that Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would not appear before the apex court. Other treasury members also joined the minister to ridicule the opposition leader.

After the hullabaloo, Raja re-started his speech, but frequent interruptions from the treasury benches marred it. In the meanwhile, Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shuakat Basra made an attempt to say what Raja had not been able to say amid uproar by the treasury members.

He said it was unfortunate to see that the PML-N was creating hurdles in the way of implementation of its own resolution and the announcement made by party chief Mian Nawaz Sharif in favour of Bahawalpur province.

Speaker Rana Muhamamd Iqbal, however, refused to listen to the Opposition members, saying that nomination of assembly members for the commission was something between him and the NA speaker.

At one point, the speaker also said it was a communication between the secretaries of the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly. He also informed the House that he had written a letter to the National Assembly speaker regarding formation of a national commission to examine the prospects of creating new federating units in other provinces also.

Unconvinced by his arguments, the Opposition members encircled the Speaker’s dais and did not allow him to continue the proceedings. In the meanwhile, a call for prayer was heard and the Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes.

Later, when the session resumed, Opposition’s Basra pointed out lack of quorum. As the treasury failed to complete the quorum, the Speaker adjourned the House until Tuesday (Tuesday) morning.