LAHORE, Jan 7: Opposition on Monday rued a “missed opportunity” of what it called giving a strong message to the establishment that they are united to stave off the agenda it wants to implement through Dr Tahirul Qadri.

Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz not only castigated the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for that but also vowed that People’s Party would alone fight and won’t let the establishment’s ‘plan’ succeed.

Talking about the ‘missed opportunity’ on the point of order, Raja Riaz said Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood had invited all Punjab Assembly members, irrespective of their party affiliation, to a dinner reception to send a message to the establishment and “a troublemaker” (a reference to Dr Tahirul Qadri) that political forces were united.

“But Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stopped his (party) MPAs from attending it (governor’s dinner), showing his stubbornness.

Had the Sharifs given up their politics of arrogance, the ‘troublemaker’ would not have darted to threaten democracy,” he said.

As Riaz was speaking on the point of order, the PML-N legislators started hooting. Riaz urged Speaker Rana Iqbal to control the treasury members and on his failure to do so, the opposition leader accused him of being part of the “planned move” to bar him from speaking on the issue.

“You are deliberately allowing the treasury members to shout during the speech of the opposition leader and it will set a wrong precedent,” Riaz said, adding when the leader of the house (Shahbaz Sharif) would turn up in the house he too won’t be allowed to sit in there in a tit-for-tat reply. “Change my name if I fail to do so,” Riaz said mocking Shahbaz who often uses the expression in his public speeches.

Riaz said some of the PML-N legislators who had come to the Governor’s House unwittingly had to return after receiving Shahbaz Sharif’s negative message. He said the establishment got the opportunity to threaten democracy only because of the Sharifs’ attitude as they had learnt nothing from the past.

The absence of the PML-N legislators from the governor’s dinner on Sunday dispelled the impression that the new Governor Mr Mehmood and the Sharifs had good relations.

“Yes, Mr Mehmood and Sharifs had good relations as long as the former had not become governor of Punjab. Things have changed now. The Sharifs feel that Mehmood had ditched them. After Mehmood’s shaking hand with the PPP, the PML-N is losing ground in south Punjab which is unacceptable to them (the Sharifs),” a PPP legislator told Dawn seeking anonymity.

The legislator also revealed that Nawaz Sharif had yet not felicitated Mehmood on becoming governor. “The Sharifs are good at turning their friend into a foe,” he commented.

The PML-N also boycotted the all-parties conference Mr Mehmood called at the Governor’s House on Monday. Law Minister Rana Sanullah told reporters outside the assembly building that Mr Mehmood’s appointment was a “political deal” and he (governor) had invited the PML-N legislators in his personal capacity.

The Punjab Assembly also adopted five bills on Monday -- the Defence Housing Authority Rawalpindi 2013, the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) 2012, the Punjab Public Service Commission (Amendement) 2012, the Punjab Social Services Board (Amendment) 2012 and the Lahore Canal Heritage Park 2012.

Earlier, parliamentary secretary on tourism Rana Arshad faced criticism from the opposition members for not giving them satisfactory answers. The speaker prorogued the session.

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