ISLAMABAD - The PML-N’s coalition partner, JUI-F in Friday’s National Assembly session said that prohibited (Haram) edible items were being sold in the country without any check.

The religio-political party’s lawmakers terming it religious and sensitive matter strongly demanded immediate action against the sale and purchase of items mixed with Haram ingredients.

Sensing the gravity of the matter, Speaker Iyaz Sadiq advised the relevant ministry to refer the matter to Standing Committee concerned for in depth deliberation on it.

Parliamentary Secretary Raja Javed Ikhlas, responding to a call-attention notice about edibles mixed with Haram ingredients, informed that a bill has been prepared by the government for prohibition of sale and purchase of these items.

“Ministry (concerned) has sent a draft bill to Cabinet for approval, which after getting nod will be sent to CCI (Council of Common Interest),” he informed. Raja, in response to back-to-back questions and concerns raised by JUI-F’s legislators, said that after the 18th amendment the monitoring and checking of such items is purely a provincial subject. Provincial governments have to establish food authorities to resolve this issue, he added.

JUI-F chief Fazlur Rahman asked government to take punitive measure without any delay. “There is no need to wait for (new) law as action should e taken on this matter,” he said, adding that interior ministry should also look into the matter as Haram items were already prohibited in the country.

Leader of Opposition in NA Syed Khursheed Shah, who marked first appearance in the current session after a foreign visit, cautioned government to put proper attention on agriculture crisis in the country. , He said the government need to check prices of wheat, cotton and paddy, as growers were facing problems due to low prices.

“The government need to focus on agriculture issues as the country is facing crisis which would become a disaster if immediate action was not taken by authorities concerned,” Shah said. He assured the federal government of his full support in talking with Sindh government on this matter.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Bosan, at the fag end of the proceeding, admitted that agriculture sector was facing such problems. “The prime minister has formed a committee which will work to reduce cost of production of different crops,” he said. The final policy will be prepared in consultations with the chief ministers of the provinces to facilitate the growers, he added.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad, responding to call-attention notice about discriminatory directives of Nepra, said that audit teams have already been asked to look into the overbilling of electricity. “All the facts behind this matter will be shared with the masses after the preparation of audit report,” he added. He said Karachi Electricity is a private company and has its own pricing formula.

Earlier, the house was informed that hunting permits to the Arab dignitaries for hunting houbara bustard are issued after approval of the PM on receipt of requests from the foreign embassies.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the house that Rs292.5 million has been spent on the foreign visits of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The House was informed that from June-December, 2013, an amount of Rs.218.3 million was spent while from January 2014 to date, a total of Rs76.2 million expenditure has been incurred on the foreign tours of the PM.

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir, speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during Question Hour, said that the policy of issuance of hunting permits to the Arab dignitaries is reviewed every year by the government. “It is only matter of goodwill as Pakistan is not compromising on its sovereignty,” he added

Responding to another question, Dastagir said Pakistan has shown restraint in responding to India’s acts of aggression on the border, resulting in the loss of 14 innocent lives. He said DGMO contacted his Indian counterpart to devise ways and means for de-escalation but his efforts were cold shouldered. Pakistan also stressed upon UN to carry out impartial inquiry into the incidents of ceasefire violations through UNMOGIP.

To yet another question, the commerce minister said that according to decision taken by the previous government on February 29, 2012, all other items except 1,209 items can be traded with India. He said the present government has not added or withdrew any item from the Negative List.