PESHAWAR: Members of the joint opposition on Tuesday resigned from all standing committees of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, including Public Accounts Committee, and district advisory development committees to protest what they called the discriminatory policies of the PTI government.

“We feel that the government is continuously ignoring the opposition and hasn’t fulfilled its commitments on various issues, including allocation of development funds,” opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani told the assembly on a point of order on Tuesday.

He said the opposition resigned from the house’s standing committees and DADCs and that it might approach the court on the issue of allocation of development funds.

Stages walkout, warns to take govt to court over funds issue

Members of the joint opposition later walked out of the house.

Parliamentary leaders of the joint opposition rushed to the opposition leader’s chamber after walkout and signed an undertaking to resign from the respective standing committees and DADCs. The undertaking was signed by 21 MPAs, including Akram Durrani.

Section 175 of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988, says a member may resign his membership of a committee by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker.

Mr Durrani told reporters that the opposition parties would not boycott the house’s proceedings.

He said the treasury and opposition had reached an agreement on a formula for the distribution of annual development programme funds.

“Under the formula, 35 per cent of the total funds allocated in the current ADP will go to members of the opposition parties and the rest to the ruling party’s,” he said.

The opposition leader claimed that the government didn’t honour its commitment forcing the opposition to resign from committees.

“The opposition has decided to give the government a tough time in the house,” he said. After a walkout, Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani asked the treasury lawmakers to bring the opposition members back.

Law and parliamentary affairs minister Sultan Mohammad Khan requested the chair to adjourn the sitting and said the government would negotiate with the opposition to address its grievances.

The sitting was later adjourned until 2pm on Friday.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPA Mehmood Ahmad Khan highlighted the issue of the distribution of development funds.

On a point of order, he said by issuing a notification, the irrigation department recently allocated Rs100 million to every MPA of the ruling party in southern districts of the province for development schemes.

Mr Mehmood said Rs50 million was given away to opposition leader Akram Durrani, who also belonged to southern region of the province.

He said the notification didn’t carry the names of other opposition MPAs, an act, which was tantamount to violating the government-opposition agreement.

The lawmaker said the release of Rs50 million to Mr Durrani was an attempt on part of the government to create mistrust among the opposition.

On the occasion, the opposition leader said he would accept funds.

Earlier, local government minister Shahram Tarakai responding to another identical point of order said the government would act against the people spreading rumours about the alleged adverse reaction by polio vaccination in Peshawar on Monday.

He said the anti-state elements might be behind disinformation to harm anti-polio campaign in the country.

“Chaotic situation in the city sent out a wrong message to the international community, too,” he said.

The minister said the government had constituted a committee to probe the matter.

The opposition members proposed to the government to form a high-level fact-finding committee consisting of MPAs, relevant officials and specialists for the purpose.

They said the rumours about adverse reaction caused by the anti-polio drops administered to the children of a private school engulfed the entire city and that announcements were made asking people to take their children to hospitals.

The house passed two resolutions in the absence of the opposition.

A resolution moved by women MPAs urged the provincial government and the assembly to repeal the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, to ensure harsher punishment for perpetrators to strengthen implementation system and mechanism to increase the age for the girls’ marriage to 18 years.

The other resolution condemned bombings in Sri Lanka on the eve of Easter, which killed around 300 people, and expressed solidarity with the victims’ families in particular and people of Sri Lanka in general.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2019