Friday May 24, 2024

Absence of education minister, secretary irks Punjab deputy speaker

The PA session, summoned at the requisition of the opposition

By Faizan Bangash
April 17, 2024
Interior view of Punjab Assembly. — AFP/File
Interior view of Punjab Assembly. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Tuesday faced serious embarrassment when it was discovered that the provincial education minister and secretary were absent during the Question-Hour session in the provincial assembly.

The PA session, summoned at the requisition of the opposition, started after a delay of more than two hours and treasury benches had a really embarrassing situation when the Question Hour related to the Punjab Education Department started.

When the Question-Hour began, opposition MPAs, including Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan and Ejaz Shafi, drew the attention of Deputy Speaker Zaheer Iqbal Channar towards the absence of minister and secretary concerned.

Provincial Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman on the occasion requested the chair to hold zero hour until the concerned minister returns to the House. The absence of the education secretary or even the special secretaries during the Question Hour further annoyed the deputy speaker who remarked: “Mr Secretary is not more privileged than the members of this House.”

Opposition leader Ahmad Khan Bachar and other members urged the deputy speaker to issue a ruling in this regard.

“Non-seriousness is being committed on the part of minister and secretary,” remarked Channar. On this, Suhaib Bherth, the provincial minister for communication and works, assured the chair that the relevant minister might be on his way to the House.

Opposition leader Bachar voiced a serious concern over the absence of two key figures during the proceedings and stated at least the public money should be taken good care of which was spent due to this assembly sitting. The deputy speaker started the zero hour in which Waqas Mann took up the issue of overcharging by contractors in cattle markets. After the MPA had finished discussion over the issue, Minister of Education Punjab Rana Sikandar Hayat Khan entered the House and explained he had earlier reached the assembly but was busy in meeting with a foreign delegation. He apologised over his absence and the Question Hour started.

However, further trouble awaited the minister and officials of Education department after Mian Amjed Ali Javaid, a ruling party MPA from Toba Tek Singh, expressed utter dissatisfaction over the answer he received from the minister. He repeatedly urged the minister to remain relevant to the question that was related to facilities provided to students of government-run schools. Mian Amjed expressed anger over the way his question was being treated. He said his question was related to the details of facilities provided by the Education department in entire Punjab, not only a specific district.

The education minister once again apologised to the questioner and assured him that a detailed answer would be provided to him.

The opposition leader stated that it was unfortunate to see that the member of this House had to seek an apology due to the slackness of bureaucracy.