LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution lauding prime minister’s initiative of constituting a commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and condemning those protesting and trying to create political instability on the basis of “unfounded and satanic leaks”.

The treasury adopted the resolution unanimously after all opposition members had left the House protesting against Nawaz Sharif over the Panama Leaks controversy.

There was a crossfire of slogans between the opposition and the treasury members. From treasury benches, only few women (members) chanted slogans and reciprocated the opposition’s protest.

The joint opposition members gathered in front of the Speaker’s rostrum and chanted “Go Nawaz Go”, “Go Shahbaz Go” and “Loot ka hisab do”, while the treasury benches’ women members chanted slogans: “Mian dey naarey wajan gae” and “Bhaag gae jhootey”, as soon as the opposition members left the House.

The hullabaloo began in the House when opposition leader Mian Mahmoodur Rashid castigated the PML-N and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for “looting the national wealth and now constituting commission headed by his hand-picked retired judge of the Supreme Court to get himself and his family cleared of allegations leveled in the Panama Leaks.”

Stating that Pakistan earned a bad name all over the world, Mr Rasheed demanded that the prime minister should first resign and then face investigations about his and his family’s undeclared assets.

Meanwhile, Speaker Rana Iqbal continued inviting the opposition leader that he should read the motion to suspend assembly proceedings for tabling a resolution. Mr Rasheed, along with all opposition members, left the House without tabling the resolution.

Later, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the opposition members had left because they came to know that he was going to present an amended resolution. Mr Sanaullah read the motion and after the suspension of Assembly proceedings presented the resolution which was unanimously adopted.

In the pre-budget debate, the treasury as well as opposition members floated their suggestions and stressed that the government must focus on health, education and agriculture and invest more money on the welfare of people instead of flashy projects like metro trains and Orange Line.

The finance minister kept taking notes all through the discussion on budget proposals.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Mian Aslam Iqbal hit out at the finance minister for not explaining the House about the utilisation of funds allocated for the current fiscal year. He regretted that bogus sessions were being held in Model Town, where decisions were being taken about allocation of funds including block allocations.

He said the poor were dying in public hospitals for want of life-saving equipment such as ventilators and dialysis machines as well as shortage of medicines because the hospitals had no funds to purchase and disburse medicines. He demanded that the professors should be made duty bound to stay in hospitals instead of returning to their private clinics and operating theatres during working hours.

Referring to Article 25-A, he said, the government must make arrangements to send all children to schools. For this purpose, he said, new schools should be established and missing facilities be provided to the existing school buildings.

He further demanded that the small farmers should be given subsidy so that their input cost could come down. Abdul Rauf Mughal demanded that the Wazirabad Institute of Cardiology should be made operational with the installation of latest equipment and recruitment of required staff.

Asghar Ali Munda said the government must focus on agriculture and strengthen the farmers to put country’s economy on track. He demanded that the government should announce subsidy for farmers in the purchase of petrol, gas, power, equipment and pesticides.

Hina Pervaiz Butt called for collective wisdom in finalising the budget proposals with a mindset to provide relief to common people in the province keeping the general elections of 2018 in mind. She also called for holding a census to know about the population.

Sardar Jamal Leghari’s demand was machine readable books for the purchase of arms and ammunition.

Earlier, privilege motions were referred to the privilege committee, while adjournment motions were pended for next week.

Deputy Speaker Shair Ali Gorchani, who conducted the pre-budget debate, adjourned the session till 10am on Thursday (today).

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2016

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