LAHORE: The treasury in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday adopted on the last day of its concluding session the provincial Rs85.40 billion supplementary budget and paid a tribute to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif after a clash between its members and the opposition was averted just before it was about to create an ugly situation at the departing moment.

The praises on the deposed prime minister and his brother Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were showered in a resolution presented by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah after approval of the additional budget 2017-18.

Opposition leader Mian Mahmoodur Rashid objected to the resolution and walked out, raising, along with his few comrades, slogans against Nawaz demanding sedition cases against him for his controversial remarks.

He raised slogan “Adiala (Jail)” amidst spirited slogans by the women members before walking out of the house. He and his team also avoided a group photo arranged on the stairs of the assembly for its members after its last session.

The assembly also adopted a resolution presented by the law minister paying tribute to MI’s Col Suhail Abid and Havaldar Sanaullah who embraced martyrdom during an operation against militants in Balochistan on Wednesday.

Tributes were also paid to three soldiers who were injured in the operation in which terrorist Salman Badini, who had murdered 100 Hazaras and police officials, was killed along with two others. It prayed for the victory of security forces, police and other security institutions fighting against terrorists, their patrons and facilitators.

The other resolution which the opposition objected to, condemned the Indian media which it said twisted a recent statement of Nawaz Sharif. The lobby was afraid of Nawaz’s popularity and was running the campaign to gain political mileage.

Condemning this lobby, the resolution paid rich tributes to Nawaz, calling him Pakistanis’ beloved leader, true patriotic, creator of Pakistan’s nuclear capability, and the founder of CPEC which is a project of strong Pakistan.

The resolution emphasized the need to hold timely, transparent and free elections in 2018, urging the ECP and other institutions concerned to play their full role in this direction, also hoping true democracy in Pakistan.

Earlier, the house expressed, through the same resolution, its pleasure over the completion of the tenure by the assemblies in Pakistan. It expressed its satisfaction over the five-year performance of the Punjab government which, it said, was much better than other provinces. The government launched numerous public welfare projects.

It said the Punjab assembly passed a record 191 laws, eulogizing the leaders of the house and the opposition, speaker and all members. It reposed confidence into the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, vowing that the PML-N would continue to push its public service agenda in future too.

The treasury defeated opposition’s two cut motions. Speaker Rana Iqbal applied guillotine afterwards and sped up the procedure of the adoption of the supplementary budget. Deputy Speaker Sher Gorchani soon replaced the speaker and had all the remaining 38 demands for grants approved by the house in a lightning speed.

Earlier, opening the debate on the supplementary budget in the beginning of the session at 1.55pm instead of the scheduled 11am, Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rashid strongly objected to the extra expenditure for the “royal family”. He said the supplementary budget indicated poor financial discipline in the province.

Without caring for the ridiculing by the treasury MPAs, he said the extra budget contradicted chief minister’s tall claims of austerity, questioning Rs64.6 million for his secretariat, Rs14.7 for deploying Rangers for the security of Jati Umra, Rs5.3 million for the treatment of the governor abroad, and payment of Rs5.5 million to lawyer Khawaja Haris for an intra-court appeal, suspecting that he might have been paid for actually defending Nawaz in the NAB court.

He also objected to Rs121 million for the rent of Cabinet Division’s helicopter, Rs18.19 billion for education, Rs19.10 billion for bridges and roads, Rs1.53 billion for the Orange Train and Rs 515 million for plants under its track. He questioned Rs5.50 billion for police, saying the high powered costly vehicles bought for them were being used by the royal (Sharif) family.

He said Rs8.50 billion were spent in the NA-120 bye-election (won by Begum Kulsoom Nawaz). This was in addition to the money spent by the federal government in the constituency. “With this money even the Quaid-i-Azam would have been defeated in the bye-election for the seat,” he remarked.

He said the PTI would approach the election commission and NAB for action against the PML-N stalwarts as “we have now got evidence against them”. A total of Rs24 billion of the Saaf Pani project was diverted to such things, he said, mentioning a book of Dr Hafiz Pasha which indicated a high annual growth rate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and not in Punjab.

His speech was followed by a polite but praising speech by PML-N veteran Chaudhry Iqbal who said all is well in Punjab because of Shehbaz Sharif. PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqui said all is not well, and was also ridiculed by the treasury.

PML-N’s senior MPA Mian Rafiq said Punjab had progressed more than others also in inflation, unemployment and corruption. “Check the other side of tava (chapati pan), he said, adding the government’s policy had been trader-friendly and not farmer-friendly.

It was PML-N’s Haji Umar Farooq who led to the clash in the house by verbally attacking Imran Khan. Mr Mehmooodur Rashid and his few comrades protested and hurled invectives which were reciprocated. In the meantime, Minister Khawaja Imran Nazir conveyed his party’s minority member Shehzad Munshi that PTI’s Arif Abbasi had uttered derogatory remarks against him.

Mr Munshi rushed towards Mr Abbasi in a rage and pushed him back. Many intervened but this again happened. A brawl was nevertheless prevented after Minister Khawaja Salman and others intervened. Mr Munshi and three others walked out in protest. They returned only after Haji Umar Farooq, Mian Mehmoodur Rashid and Arif Abbasi regretted their words.

PML-N’s Malik Arshad condemned the PTI leadership for attempting to disrupt development in the country by sit-ins and protests. PTI’s Asif Mehmood termed the PML-N members as the aliens (of Nawaz Sharif), saying that the people would ridicule ruling party’s call claims on social media. He questioned as to why the chief minister who made tall claims in the beginning did not attend assembly sessions in the last five years.

The finance minister justified the supplementary budget, which she said was spent on the welfare of people. She said there was no financial mismanagement and the same book of her husband had also indicated that Punjab led other provinces in per capita income and other aspects. Punjab conducted much more development than others and “we will continue it in the future too”, she said.

The law minister also thanked the assembly staff and announced two extra salaries for them. Media too was praised.The opposition members boycotted the session and left the assembly.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2018

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