LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday witnessed rare scene of treasury legislators leaving the House while pointing quorum, leading to melodramatic ending of the session convened on opposition’s requisition.

Infuriated by harsh words used by PML-N’s Samiullah Khan against Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal, Law Minister Raja Basharat reminded the opposition that session was convened on its requisition and treasury extended full support to continue business without giving own agenda.

“Such attitude is uncalled for. Now we are leaving and it is up to you (opposition) to continue session”, he said. As the treasury members started leaving, a female legislator pointed quorum that ultimately caused the chair to prorogue the session.

The session started one hour and 30 minutes behind the scheduled time with Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari in the chair.

The trouble began during general discussion on price hike and Kashmir when the chair asked Malik Ahmad Khan to sit down since allocated 5 minutes were over. The PML-N legislator took exception saying that he was talking about very serious issues that were the root cause of the sufferings of the masses. He said those ministers who kept reading out long speeches were never interrupted but opposition members were cut down even if discussing the root causes of public suffering. He walked out the House despite that the chair later asked him to continue while he was leaving the House. Opposition staged a walkout in protest but returned on the request of two member team sent by the chair.

As the Opposition returned, Samiullah Khan used harsh words against Mian Aslam Iqbal, who earlier refuted the claims of the legislator regarding facilities for industries and ease for doing business in the province.

It provoked, otherwise cool and calm Raja Basharat, who went on to remind the opposition that session was convened on its requisition and the treasury had not given own agenda for one week.

“We have not given any agenda for more than a week. It is your responsibility to maintain quorum and create an atmosphere for smooth proceedings. Instead of doing that, you are damaging the atmosphere by using such words. Now we are going out and it is up to you to maintain quorum and continue business”, Raja Basharat said while leaving the House. As other treasury members followed him, a female legislator pointed quorum. As quorum remained incomplete even after ringing bells for five minutes, the chair prorogued the session.

Earlier, Samiullah Khan stood on a point of order and drew attention of the chair towards closure of industrial units due to unavailability of gas. He lamented that the government was turning a deaf ear to them. He said the government was claiming of establishing industrial zones in the province while in reality industries with business worth billions of dollars were closed down. He said that power looms were shutdown in Faisalabad and tractor sales plummeted by 40 per cent. He challenged the government to give detail of $2 billion investment in the province while the opposition would come up with the data about closure of industries.

Mian Aslam Iqbal asked the PML-N to give details of industrial zones it had established during its tenure. He asked who benefited from the Pattoki industrial zone and that how many other zones were set up in the province by the PML-N. He said the present government has set up seven industrial zones. About the high gas and power tariff, he said if he gave details of the reasons the opposition would cry in the House. He also accepted independent MPA Jugnoo Mohsin’s demand for a debate on ease of doing business. He claimed that ranking of Pakistan has improved considerably due to concrete steps taken by the present regime.

Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry supported the adjournment motion by PML-N’s Mian Naseer Ahmad objecting to Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry’s statement regarding an amendment to set new standards and rules for the working of provincial food authority.

Mian Naseer expressed surprise over federal government’s intentions to legislate on a provincial subject. He criticized the federal minister for what he called serving the interests of multinational companies whose beverages had been banned in the schools by Punjab government for protecting students’ health.

He informed the House that Fawad Chaudhry had also held a meeting to chalk out the scope of the proposed legislation within next few days, expressing wonder why a federal minister was bent upon encroaching upon a purely provincial subject.

Samiullah Chaudhry said the PFA was a provincial subject and asked the chair to take up the issue with the federal government.

Raja Basharat requested the chair to allow the government a few days’ time so that the matter could be discussed with the Chief Minister and relevant officials, assuring the opposition that government would not go against the interests of the province.

Aslam Iqbal said the matter had already been brought before four chief ministers in the meeting of Council of Common Interests.