Parallel PA sessions continue

Treasury holds budget debate at Aiwan-e-Iqbal, while opposition passes  private member bill at Punjab Assembly building

Two parallel sessions of the Punjab Assembly were held on Tuesday once again, raising several questions related to the legislative business.

One of them was held by the opposition at the Punjab Assembly building with Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in the chair while the treasury lawmakers held their session at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal with Panel of Chairman Khalil Tahir Sandhu in the chair.

The general discussion on the provincial budget continued at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal while the opposition’s session passed a private member bill in the absence of treasury lawmakers.

In the session held at Aiwan-e-Iqbal, the treasury lawmakers delivered long speeches uninterrupted in the absence of the opposition, lauding the leadership of the PML-N for presenting a “balanced” budget.

Most of the MPAs were of the view that they couldn’t get any chance to speak during the last three-and-a-half years due to Elahi’s conduct.

The legislators demanded development schemes for their respective constituencies and urged the government to build new schools, colleges and universities.

Once a dissident PML-N MPA, Mian Jalil Ahmad Sharaqpuri also spoke in the house. “I had developed some differences with the PML-N but I have assured the leadership that I’ll give my vote to the party. Now, the differences have been sorted out and I am grateful to Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz for honouring me,” Jalil Sharaqpuri said. He further added that all the MPAs and officers above Grade-19 shouldn’t receive their salaries for one year and this amount should be spent for the welfare of the poor.

Almost every MPA was found criticizing Elahi for not allowing the government to present the budget in the Punjab Assembly. “It is not the way that the IG and the chief secretary are summoned to seek an apology,” the chair ruled.

He added that he was part of the committee that held negotiations with the opposition for holding the budget session in the Punjab Assembly. “I quit the meeting of the said committee when the opposition was pressing for their demands,” he said, while explaining the reason to hold the session at Aiwan-e-Iqbal.

During the proceedings, treasury lawmaker Azma Bukhari grilled the government. “I raised an important issue but it wasn’t taken serious. This is not the way,” Azma said. She was demanding government take action against drug addicts along Canal Road. “Allow me to take action if the government isn’t interested,” she said.

Sikh MPA Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora said in his speech that the last government of the PML-N had passed the Sikh Marriage Act but it is yet to be implemented. “Pakistan was the first country where the law was passed but the PTI government didn’t implement it. Now, we should implement it in letter and spirit,” Arora said. Later, the chair adjourned the house to meet again on Wednesday (today) at 2 PM.

In the meanwhile, the session held at the Punjab Assembly building passed a bill unanimously in the absence of treasury MPAs. The said bill was moved as a Private Member Bill by MPA Mian Shafi.

The Punjab Free and Compulsory Education bill was passed in the House. Earlier, Elahi chaired the parliamentary party meeting of the PTI and the PML-Q. The meeting once again declared the ongoing session at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal illegal and unconstitutional. The session was later adjourned till June 28.