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Toppling of LGs not to be allowed: Hamza

By Moayyed Jafri
October 05, 2018

LAHORE: Punjab Assembly Opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz has said the PML-N will make all-out efforts to stop the PTI government from ‘toppling’ the Punjab Local Government System under the ‘farce’ of change in its ‘lust’ for power.

In his speech at the Punjab Assembly Session, Hamza said the PML-N government was the first in the history of the country that held Local Body Election in true democratic spirit on party bases. The people of Pakistan were given an opportunity to practice their constitutional right to political association on the grassroots level for the first time and they elected 58,000 Local Government representatives. Hamza said every since coming to power, virtually every action of PTI had been rooted in sabotaging PMLN, regardless even if the project or system is inherently public friendly and serves the people. He said that PML-N would move the court, against any action to dismantle the local body system and would obstruct all steps in the parliament and all other forums. “PTI ranted against increasing taxes on the middle class and indirect taxation for the past 10 years and when they came in power they buried the people under Rs 183 billion in taxes out of which Rs 71 billion are indirect taxes”, Hamza pointed out.

Questioning the legitimacy of the elections 2018, he said never in the history of the country had all political parties so unanimously complained of mass ‘rigging’. PTI, after promising investigation into the matter, too took another U-turn, however, the PML-N chose to allow continuation of the democratic process in the greater interest of the country, he said.

Hamza asked the government to fulfill its promises of bringing back 200 billion dollars to the country, running the economy without IMF, 10 million jobs and relief for the middle and poor class. He said that the steps taken by the government would bring a tsunami of unemployment instead of creating new jobs. Hamza bashed the government over their mishandling of foreign affairs especially in the domain of CPEC and said that due to the incompetence of the government China had become apprehensive of Pakistan regarding the project.

The opposition leader mentioned the CPEC, elimination of terrorism through close coordination with the forces, ending energy crisis, laying down mass public transport projects, subsidies and interest free loans for farmers as the achievements of the PML-N government.

Lamenting the budget cut to development projects and subsidies to the farmers, he said that these measures will push the working class and the country down the pit of economic strife. Earlier, during the question hour the opposition benches objected to the absence of the Minister Local Government Aleem Khan.

The speaker said that under the Assembly Rules of Business the Law Minister can respond to questions of any department therefore Raja Basharat responded to the questions. PML-N MPA Azma Bukhari pointed out that the Speaker is supposed to be an impartial custodian of the house therefore Pervez Elahi’s regular partisan media talks outside the parliament are in bad taste and against the mandate of the post of Assembly Speaker. She therefore asked the speaker to pick if he wants to continue being partisan politician or the Speaker of the House. Raja Basharat while responding to this objection said that Azma’s husband Samiullah was a part of the committee which unanimously agreed that outside the premise of the assembly the speaker can practice his political activities at will, therefore this should not be an issue of contention now. Speaker Pervaiz Elahi weighed in on the issue himself by saying that if the matter of assembly conduct is brought into question, he had seen worse passing as acceptable by the PML-N. “I’ve seen dances on the assembly floor, if the opposition wants to do another item number, they are more than welcome to”, he said.

Azma Bukhari took issue with this statement of the speaker and termed it indecent while protesting against it. However, Hamza Shahbaz intervened and said that there were respectable women members in the parliament from both opposition and treasury benches therefore such comments should be avoided.

PML-N MPA and former Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal presented a resolution in the assembly, proposing that in recognition of her service and struggle for democracy in the Pakistan the late Kulsoom Nawaz should be recognized as “Madar -e- Jamhooriyat”.

Raja Basharat proposed that had the opposition consulted with the government over this resolution; it could have been brought forth as a joint resolution.