LAHORE: Making parliamentary history, the budget session of the Punjab Assembly commenced at a local hotel instead of the assembly chambers on Friday afternoon.
At least three large halls of the hotel located adjacent to the assembly building have been hired for the session, which is likely to continue for more than three weeks.
The step has been ‘necessitated’ by the novel coronavirus pandemic as the assembly chamber is inadequate to accommodate 371 lawmakers while ensuring social distancing.
The halls as well as chairs and tables laid there for the MPAs were disinfected before beginning of the proceedings, while the members and assembly staff were strictly directed to wear masks and use hand-sanitizers.
The session began around one and a half hours later than its scheduled time. As the proceedings started, the house took up the issue of marketing of books containing derogatory remarks about the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and unanimously demanded banning and confiscating all copies available in the market.
It sought a compliance report within a week.
Supporting the demand, Speaker Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi said: “It is alarming that how these books reached here and are easily available in the markets in a country that was created in the name of Islam.”
The participants offered Fateha for the victims of Covid-19 and plane crash and also passed condolence resolutions in this respect.
It is worth mentioning here that the official business was not taken up during Friday proceedings.
Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz lauded the speaker for making the best possible arrangements for the session and criticised Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry for calling for virtual sessions of the elected houses.
Taking a jibe at the prime minister with reference to the coronavirus situation, he said the country reached the situation because of not strictly implementing SOPs.
PPP parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza said the farmers were not satisfied with the wheat support price of Rs1,400 only because their production cost was much higher than this and thus they were shifting to other crops instead of wheat.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020