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May 14, 2016

Secys not present to answer PA motions


May 14, 2016


Punjab Assembly on Friday turned out to be a major disappointment with a significant majority of parliamentary secretaries not present to answer pressing public interest adjournment motions of members.

The session after a period of less than two hours was adjourned for Monday after PTI MPA Shunila Ruth called for quorum and the House was unable to reach the required number. Jamaat-i-Islami MPA Dr Syed Waseem Akhtar requested the Speaker to look into the matter as well.

On a point of order in the Assembly on Friday, the Leader of the Opposition and PTI MPA Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed blasted the Punjab government for record-high corruption as narrated in the recent report published by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

The report, said Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, put Punjab as the province with highest incidence of corruption with bureaucrats in the departments of education, health, and police taking kickbacks from the tax-payer’s money. He requested the PA Speaker to allow his adjournment motion to be out-of-turn tabled. 

Speaking on the motion, Mehmood-ur-Rasheed informed as per the report that 332 cases of corruption had been identified in government departments of Punjab. He dismissed claims of merit made routinely by cabinet members and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, stating that strong action should be taken by the government in this regard.

Responding to the Leader of the Opposition’s criticism, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah questioned the authenticity of FAFEN and said the report of the think tank on the fairness of 2013 general election contained errors.

Sanaullah however agreed that a day should be kept for discussion on the report’s alleged findings and it was ruled by the PA Speaker that this would take place on the coming Wednesday.

On another point of order, the Leader of the Opposition informed the House that retired MS of Services Hospital Lahore Dr Farooq Baloch had around four days ago received a visitor from Deputy Secretary of CM Secretariat demanding he issue 100 appointment letters. Mehmood-ur-Rasheed urged the government and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to initiate an inquiry into the matter and said a case had already been lodged with the DG Anti-Corruption’s office. The Law Minister replying to this point of order said Baloch did not have a good record either and claimed that he was causing unnecessary trouble. Nevertheless, the PA Speaker referred the matter to the parliamentary standing committee for report in 15 days.

Meanwhile, PTI MPA Dr Murad Rass brought the attention of the House to the condition of Christians in Mandi Bahauddin where local clerics had been allegedly threatening them to convert or leave. Rass said measures for their security should be taken immediately before any lives are lost.

The Law Minister stated that the matter was being taken seriously by the chief minister and steps were being taken to improve the situation in the area.  The House will resume on Monday. 

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