LAHORE, Jan 21: The Punjab Assembly on Monday failed to ‘unanimously’ adopt a resolution in favour of democracy after the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid raised objection to the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The treasury and opposition in a meeting of the business advisory committee before the start of the house proceedings had reached an understanding that a “pro-democracy resolution” would be passed unanimously.

However, Q’s Samina Khawar Hayat threw a spanner in the works at the last moment saying, “My party and I are not against democracy. I am opposing the resolution because it expresses confidence in controversial ECP. The four members of the ECP have been hired on the wish of Chaudhry Nisar Ali, opposition leader in the National Assembly”.

Ms Hayat was shouting on the top of her voice as Speaker Rana Iqbal did not allow her microphone to speak on the resolution.

Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri during his Islamabad sojourn had also raised objections to the four out of the five (political) members of the commission and demanded ECP’s ‘dissolution’.

The pro-democracy resolution tabled by opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz said: “This house supports stability and continuation of democracy and democratic institutions. It expresses confidence in the ECP and endorses the rule of law and the Constitution and election of political leaders on time. The house also resolves to deter any possible conspiracy against democracy and democratic institutions.”

The PPP had requisitioned the special session primarily to discuss what it called conspiracies being hatched against forthcoming general elections and democracy.

The speaker allowed a treasury member to open the debate on democracy and general elections according to the house agenda but he had to prorogue the session as Ms Hayat was not willing to listen to the chair’s ‘requests’ to take her seat.

Earlier, the proceedings began about two hours behind its schedule. The announcement of Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood and former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani that a resolution for restoration of Bahwalpur province would be tabled in the National Assembly’s this week’s session found some critics in the house.

“The Punjab Assembly had not adopted a resolution for restoration of Bahawalpur state/province only. There is also talk about including Multan, DG Khan and Muzaffargarh in the proposed Bahwalpur province which will not be allowed without the consultation of the people of my district,” said a legislator, Ali Haider, who hails from Mianwali district.

PML-N’s Rana Arshad demanded that not only Bahwalpur but other new provinces should also be created.

PPP’s deputy parliamentary leader Shuakat Basra informed the house that the resolution regarding creation of south Punjab (not Bahwalpur) province would be tabled in the National Assembly. Raja Riaz also backed the demand for creation of south Punjab province.

The suggestion regarding restoration of Bahawalpur province (given by the governor and former premier) has already been opposed by the PPP’s south Punjab legislators and office-bearers.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik also came under fire in the house for drawing a parallel between Tahirul Qadri and the Pope. “The Christian community worldwide seeks an apology from Rehman Malik for his uncalled for comments as he has hurt their (Christians) sentiments,” PML-N’s Tahir Khalil Sindhu said. Raja Riaz had to tender an apology on behalf of Mr Malik in this regard.

The opposition leader on a point of order said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should end the “boycott” of the Punjab Assembly and visit it before the completion of its five-year term.

PPP’s Faiza Malik drew the attention of the chair towards the deteriorating law and order situation, especially in Lahore, through a call attention notice.

Agriculture minister Ahmed Ali Aulakh faced problems in satisfying the fellow members during Question Hour session.

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