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LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly proceedings on Friday were just a 40-minute affair and the House could neither take up all-important health sector for discussion nor complete the question hour on the issues like environment, which has assumed added significance due current pollution levels in the province.

The House met with a delay of 85 minutes, at 10:25am, and straight away took up question hour. It soon found out that Minister for Communication and Works Asif Nakai was missing. It drew ire of the chair and minister for law and parliamentary affairs was admonished. “The ministers need to take the House seriously,” he said.

All questions related to C&W were thus deferred by the chair and other department – environment – was taken up for discussion and only one mover of the question was found in the House. Hardly three questions could be taken up before the chair announced termination of question hour and told Minister for Health Yasmin Rashid to start a debate on her department.

She was still in the process of taking rostrum when Tahir Pervaiz of the Opposition told the chair to count the heads and ensure numerical legality is met. The House, at that point of time, had seven odd members against the requirement of 93. Customary bells were rung for five minutes, which did not help and the House took a 15-minute break to assemble the required number. These 15 minutes stretched to almost 45 minutes because the Deputy Speaker, who was conducting the proceedings, left the House and returned at 12:05pm – but only to find that House still did not have sufficient numbers to continue and it was adjourned till Monday afternoon.

“The Treasury might have interest in avoiding debate on health sector to avoid embarrassment and ensuring avoidance through thin attendance but why is the Opposition helping the government by pointing out quorum and scuttling the debate? Even if it is a trap why does Opposition walk into it every time?” someone quipped in the lobbies of the House.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018

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