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January 10, 2015

MPAs to stage protest against ‘dodgy’ ministers


January 10, 2015

PESHAWAR: Protesters can frequently be heard chanting slogans outside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to make the government listen to their demands. They block roads at times to embarrass the government and mount pressure on it. Yet, few are lucky to get attention of the ministers, who hardly care if the city traffic is brought to a halt.
Protests by citizens outside the provincial legislature are not unusual. But now lawmakers, both opposition and treasury benches, have threatened to stage a protest outside the assembly building against the government and their own assembly. That’s unusual and may be more embarrassing.
The lawmakers complained the government had hardly listened to their problems. They were angry that the ministers had always dodged them in the assembly by giving assurances on the floor of the House and not honouring them.
“We will set up a hunger strike camp outside to protest against this assembly,” said Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Mufti Said Janan who hails from Hangu. “We bring people’s problems here but the ministers give us assurances only to dodge us. The ministers are not solving our problems. You (speaker) are not listening. Where should we go?” he said in a harsh tone and thunderous voice.
Before Said Janan, the treasury benches lawmaker Babar Saleem spoke rebelliously. He was not happy over net hydel profit share of his native Swabi district diverted to the budget of Swabi University.
He belongs to Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan, a coalition partner of the government. The young legislator supported a call attention notice of opposition lawmaker from Swabi, Muhammad Shiraz Khan, who said the funds should be spent on development through MPAs.
“We will stage a protest outside the assembly building against this decision,” Babar Salim threatened, who was not satisfied with the reply of Muhammad Ali, the parliamentary secretary for finance. “We will block roads,” he said like any ordinary

Shiraz Khan harangued the House on how net hydel profit share of his district could be used for the university. He argued the government had allocated funds for universities in other areas from other resources but diverted net hydel share in Swabi to the university.
Karim Khan, another MPA from Swabi, also seconded him.Muhammad Ali assured them that the issue would be solved. But atmosphere still soured. Speaker Asad Qaiser deferred the call attention to get reply from Finance Minister Muzaffar Said, who didn’t attend Friday’s sitting. The speaker also directed all the ministers to honour all assurances they gave on the floor of the House.
The short meeting that started 86 minutes late than the scheduled time, a norm by now, passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Bill, 2015. Under the law, an 11-member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Infant Feeding Board would be constituted which would be headed by the provincial health minister.
The board would report violations, recommend investigation against manufacturers, distributors or health workers and would advise the government on policies or guidelines for the promotion and protection of breast-feeding. An eight-member district Infant Feeding Committee will also be formed that would be headed by nazim of the district council.
The law makes it mandatory for manufacturers to conspicuously write on milk packages in bold characters that “MOTHER’S MILK IS BEST FOR YOUR BABY AND HELPS IN PREVENTING DIARRHOEA AND OTHER ILLNESSES.”
The law prohibits any notice on the packages that might discourage breast-feeding. It says labels of the products must provide the necessary information in Urdu about the appropriate use of such products. The law outlaws the sale of products that are not in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The new piece of legislation also makes it mandatory for health workers to support breast-feeding and stops them from promoting any product for infants. The law has defined “infant” as any baby up to the age of twelve months.Violators of the law could face imprisonment for a term that may extend up to two years, or a fine not less than Rs50,000 or more than Rs500,000 or both.

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