LAHORE: The treasury holding the Punjab Assembly session at Aiwan-i-Iqbal began on Saturday debate on the budget for 2022-23 with panel of chairman Khalil Tahir Sindhu in the chair.

The session started some 90 minutes behind the schedule and was adjourned for 15 more minutes after the chairman asked Opposition Leader Sibtain Khan to open the debate, who was not present in the House.

“The opposition leader was contacted and agreed that he would attend this session. He might be on his way to the assembly,” Mr Sindhu said while chairing the session.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its ally PML-Q say the session called at Aiwan-i-Iqbal is illegal and are continuing with its session at Punjab Assembly chambers, which will resume its proceedings on Monday (tomorrow).

Opposition Leader Sibtain Khan, it is learnt, says the treasury members should attend the constitutional assembly session at Punjab Assembly on Monday.

It may be mentioned that the treasury also began its budget debate proceedings with quite thin attendance.

Rah-e-Haq Party’s Azam Muavia stressed that the government should take measures to protect the cultivable land as green land was fast being converted into brown land for the establishment of housing societies.

MPA Makhdoom Usman stressed that the local government system should completely be restored.

Sheikh Allauddin said his assembly business was stopped for three years during the PTI government. He stressed that the ‘fraud’ in the health card, lavish spending on security for cricket matches and Jashan-i-Baharan should be investigated.

Azma Bukhari said Speaker Parvez Elahi was using PTI’s 160 MPAs for his personal interests. She said the budget session at Aiwan-i-Iqbal called by the governor had constitutional backing.

During the session, the Punjab Union of Journalists and Punjab Assembly Press Gallery Committee staged a token boycott against Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi for preventing journalists from covering the proceedings from the press gallery and getting press gallery elected president Akhlaq Bajwa off-air. The journalists present at the protest also chanted slogans against the media owners, who [they said] were acting on the advice of the politicians.

Later, chairman Tahir Khalil Sindhu constituted a committee - three members each from the House and the journalists community - to probe the issue and take remedial measures. The committee members are: MPAs Azma Bukhari, Rana Afzal and Malik Nadeem Bara; former LPC president Arshad Ansari, Press Gallery Committee secretary Hassaan Ahmad and PUJ president Ibrahim Lucky. The committee is required to submit its report in the next three days.

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly acting secretary Amir Habib ordered the heads of assembly legislation wing, reporting wing, estate office and security wing to report to the acting secretary at his office at Aiwan-i-Iqbal. “Strict action shall be taken in case of non-compliance,” the order stated.

The session was adjourned for Sunday (today) at 2pm.

In the meantime, Punjab Assembly secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti and secretary parliamentary affairs Inayatullah Lak along with their legal team appeared at Shahdara police station for interrogation. Former provincial minister Mian Aslam Iqbal accompanied them.

MPA Pir Muhammad Ashraf Rasool has filed a case against the assembly secretary and parliamentary affairs secretary on political grounds. The assembly officers recorded their statements to the incharge (investigation).

Mr Bhatti told the media that they had appeared at Shahdara police station on the orders of the court to join the investigation after getting bail from court. “We are being politically victimised and false cases have been registered against us,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2022

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