LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly treasury members on Wednesday adopted a resolution supporting the recent meeting between their party head Nawaz Sharif and Baloch leader Sardar Attaullah Mengal where compensation of the past injustices done to the people of Balochistan and steps to bring them into national mainstream were discussed.
The out-of-turn resolution was deftly presented and defended by law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, tackling vociferous opposition members who maintained that it aimed at portraying Mr Nawaz Sharif as the sole champion of the Baloch people’s cause.
Though opposition members did not oppose the resolution, they maintained the treasury benches should have informed them in advance what they intended to do and allowed a unanimous resolution also mentioning the initiatives taken by PPP and the PML-Q’s for the Baloch rights.
The PPP members counted steps taken by the federal government for compensating the injustices done to Balochistan in the past.
The PML-Q members said they too wanted to give Baloch people their due but did not approve of the maligning of the Pakistan army during the Nawaz-Mengal meeting.
PML-Q’s Seemal Kamran pointed short quorum before Speaker Rana Iqbal could start voting on the resolution. Bells were tolled for five minutes and after maintaining the quorum the treasury benches adopted the resolution. Majority opposition members silently watched this. PPP’s Ashraf Sohna and Ehsanul Haq Naulatia nevertheless raised their both hands in support of the resolution.
The law minister countered the onslaught of the opposition against what they said promoting only Nawaz Sharif as a champion of Baloch rights, by saying the resolution covered only the PML-N head’s meeting with Mr Mengal. “Bring in a unanimous resolution about their (the Baloch’s) rights and I will fully cooperate,” he said.
The resolution said that time had come to give rights to provinces for the sake of resolving problems being faced by the country.
It said the house appreciated Mr Nawaz Sharif’s statement during the meeting that the past injustices done to Balochistan would have to be compensated and PML-N would now fight for it, those who had been discriminating against people of Balochistan should be brought to book and the killers of Nawab Akbar Bugti be brought to justice so as to console the Balochis.
The house also welcomed Mr Mengal’s statement that Balochistan’s people were ready to talk and take part in the national affairs provided all the past injustices done to them were compensated for. Mr Mengal had also offered cooperation to Mr Sharif if he came forward for Baloch rights. The house not only appreciated Nawaz’s statement but also termed it a ray hope for the solidarity of the country.
The house was of the view that it was necessary to take steps for granting rights to Balochistan’s people so as to remove their sense of deprivation and bring them into national mainstream, the resolution said.
Opposing the resolution’s contents, PPP’s Ehsanul Haq Naulatia said they meant only to amplify the image of Mr Sharif while negating the fact that the federal government had done a lot for small provinces, including Balochistan.
He said the PPP-led federal government had taken all political parties, including the PML-N, along while giving a unanimous NFC Award and announcing special package for Balochistan. And the PML-N should have now reciprocated the gesture while presenting the resolution, he added.PPP’s Ashraf Sohna also made the same demand and said the resolution should be redrafted and should have an element of unanimity that it lacked.
PML-Q’s Chaudhry Zaheer said words were uttered against the army and threats were hurled at it during the Nawaz-Mengal meeting, wondering why the PML-N members in the Punjab Assembly were taking pride in it. “We respect Balochistan’s people more than the Baloch Sardar (Mr Mengal) does. And we cannot become part of a conversation that targeted Pakistan army,” he said.
PML-Q’s Seemal Kamran and PPP’s Fauzia Behram too said the Punjab Assembly represented the entire province and therefore the resolution must have been drafted in consultation with all parties sitting in it.
Ms Behram said Sardar Mengal had also said that Mr Sharif would not have to go to Saudi Arabia had he been able to control the army, asking whether this remark would also be included in the resolution.
LEGISLATION: Earlier, the assembly passed 11 bills relating to the federal functions that have been transferred to the province under the 18th Amendment.
They included the provincial Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 2011, The West Pakistan Bus Stands and Traffic Control (Gujranwala) Ordinance 1963 (Repeal) Bill 2011, The West Pakistan Bus Stands and Traffic Control (Lahore) Ordinance, 1963 Bill 2011, The Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) (Amendment) Bill 2011, The Hindu Law of Inheritance (Second Amendment) Bill 2011, The Road Transport Workers (Amendment) Bill 2011, The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2001, The Minimum Wages (Amendment) Bill 2011, the Injured Persons (Medical Aid) (Amendment) Bill 2011, The Powers of Attorney (Amendment) Bill 2011 and the Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill 2011.
The opposition did not oppose the bills but an amendment by PPP’s Ehsanul Haq Nolatia in The Minimum Wages (Amendment) Bill suggesting enhancement of fine.
The law minister also introduced The Bank of Punjab (Amendment) Ordinance 2011 and the Punjab Government Servants Housing Foundation (Amendment) Bill 2011. The speaker referred them to the standing committees concerned for a report by January 31, 2012.
SUGARCANE GROWERS: The speaker fixed Friday for general debate on the exploitation of sugarcane growers on the request of the law minister, satisfying PPP’s Hasan Murtaza who was attending the session barefoot to protest against the injustices done to the growers.
QUESTION HOUR: Question hour was the first item on the agenda of the assembly’s Wednesday session. And it was started before Parliamentary Secretary on Health Dr Saeed Elahi could reach the house to answer questions about the department. He was nevertheless duly reprimanded by the speaker for being late. Mr Elahi was also allowed to answer at least three supplementary questions put by members on Thursday.
He said stern action would be taken against doctors found indulging in private practice in violation of rules, and those not attending their duties in government hospitals in Rahim Yar Khan.
He said funds for providing free medicines to kidney transplant patients in Lahore’s Mayo Hospital had been exhausted, pledging more budget for the purpose soon.
The session was adjourned till Thursday (today) morning.