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Senator comes under fire

LAHORE, Dec 19: A treasury member criticised the Punjab government in the Punjab Assembly session on Wednesday for providing a bullet-proof vehicle to Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Senator Kamran Michael.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the senator was provided the vehicle as he was facing life threats after the murder of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

Treasury member Saeed Akbar Niwani said as no member of the provincial assembly had the privilege to get such a security cover at state expenses, Mr Michael should himself incur the cost.

He recalled a bomb blast at his home in Bhakkar in 2008 that had left 40 members of his family and servants injured, and said though he deserved such a security cover but he did not ask for it. Being a senator, he argued, Mr Michael should seek security from the federal government.

The session started an hour and 40 minutes later than the scheduled with 21 MPAs in the house. Later Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal adjourned the proceedings until Thursday morning without completing agenda of the day.

The speaker did not take up the three bills pending for the fourth consecutive day as the sitting was put off without any obvious reason.

At the time of adjournment 17 MPAs were present.

The house did not take up the bills on the orders of the day for introduction, while the Punjab Government Servants Housing Foundation (Second Amendment) Bill of 2012, and a motion under rule 244-A of the rules of procedure of the house to move a proposed amendment in the regulatory framework were also not taken up.

On a point of order, PML-Q breakaway faction’s Sheikh Allauddin alleged that thousands of Africans living in Makkah Colony of Gulberg and Township areas of Lahore were involved in drug-peddling, car-snatching and fraudulent withdrawal of remittances worth millions of rupees. He said the police were helpless before these foreigners.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said he would direct the capital city police officer to look into the issue. He said the mover should introduce a resolution recommending the federal government to stop issuing visas to such people.

The house heard during the Questions Hour that 699 vehicles were auctioned in the Civil Secretariat before July 2008.

Rana Sana said the motor vehicle examiner had estimated their cost at Rs100 million but the sale of these vehicles had fetched Rs160 million.

The minister rejected PPP MPA Ehsan Naulatia’s assertions that 400 vehicles were in good condition and could have been sold at a higher price.

In response to a query by Rana Afzal, the minister said he did not know how many government offices were working in residential areas in violation of the building code.

He said he would direct the housing department and city district governments to take notice of the irregularity as the issue did not fall in the purview of the law department.

To a supplementary question by Mr Naulatia about a difference in salaries of various director-generals of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) in the last four years, he said as the ACE director general was a floating post so officers from other departments were posted to the office.

As DGs are permissible to draw the salary and perks, they are entitled to in their parent department so the difference in their salaries, he added, negating the impression that one of the DGs, Kazim Ali Malik, was paid Rs212,567 per month because he was the favourite of any judge.