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March 5, 2019

PSL shifted to Karachi not for security concerns, PA told


March 5, 2019

LAHORE: The Punjab government informed Punjab Assembly on Monday that Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket matches earlier scheduled to be held in Lahore were not shifted to Karachi due to lack of arrangements and unsatisfactory security measures, but technical equipment for holding and televising the matches could not reach Lahore in time due to Indian war threats which forced the government to shift them to Karachi.

This information was provided to the House by Law Minister Raja Basharat while responding to the point of orders by opposition member Waris Kallu before Question Hour.

Kallu had raised the issue of shifting PSL matches to Karachi, saying that it would tarnish the image of the country and caused big injustice to sports lovers in the province, adding that government had also stopped holding Jashan-e-Baharan in Khushab which reflected lack of preparations and capacities in Punjab government for holding public events in the province.

Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi who was chairing the session, interjected to observe that it was a wrong impression that PSL matches were shifted to Karachi due to lack of arrangements and security. Law Minister Raja Basharat informed the House that the Punjab government had made all necessary arrangements for holding PSL matches in Lahore.

He said Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had personally supervised the arrangements, but the technical equipment which was required to organise such sports events could not reach Lahore in time due to the security threats on the eastern borders by India, that left no choice for the government but to shift the matches to Karachi. He informed the House that government was formulating a policy to hold Jashan-e-Baharan which would be finalised within two to three days.

PML-N’s Azma Bukhari raised the issue of increasing the medical tests fee in the government hospitals to 200 percent, saying that the measure was a great injustice to the poor people of Punjab and a cruelty against the patients.

Minister for public prosecution, Chaudhry Zaheeruddin informed the House that government had formulated uniform curriculum for schools which would be implemented from the next academic year. He was speaking to address the issue of private schools’ fleecing the hapless parents raised by many members in the House.

He said the PTI government had promised to introduce uniform curriculum which was about to be fulfilled. The Speaker directed the government to take measures for implementing the fee structure which was formulated by the Supreme Court verdict to address the issue of exorbitant tuition fee charged by private schools.

Replying to an adjournment motion by PML-N’s Arshad Malik, Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry told the House that Punjab government was disposing of the surplus stocks of wheat in the province and said from now on Punjab would only keep the stocks of wheat required for estimated needs and the surplus would be sold in open market.

However, the mover Arshad Malik challenged the food minister’s stance and told the House that government still needed to keep necessary stocks of wheat because the government had purchased the wheat from the loans taken from banks. However, the minister said entire stock of wheat was safe at godowns.

He said despite releasing 4.4 million metric tonnes wheat, the official stocks were still at the highest level, adding that by the month of April this year, only the quantity needed for food security would be kept available in stocks.

Arshad Malik said the wheat procured after giving huge subsidy and obtaining bank loans was not safe at godowns, the minister said that it should have been pointed when the previous regime spent Rs205 billion from public money on subsidy.

The Speaker directed that the committee already constituted to check record of available wheat stocks headed by law minister Raja Basharat, should ensure its safety and sale of surplus wheat to create space at godowns for procuring wheat this season.

The Speaker noted that surplus wheat was lying in godowns for many years and it could have been decayed and affected by pests after kept stored for so many years.

Earlier, during the Question Hour pertaining to the departments of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Forest Minister Sibtain Khan told the House that encroached Forest department lands got vacated from the encroahers would be used for tree plantation and various departments were holding consultations on the matter.

He said no attention towards increasing forests area and vacating department’s lands from land mafia were given during the last 10 years causing huge losses to the government and environment.

To a question of PTI’s Uzma Kardar, Sibtain Khan said forests spread on only 3.1 per cent of lands in the province, adding that forestry remained the neglected sector during the previous regimes. Now the government was giving due attention to this important sector, he said. To another question, the minister said no analysis of fish and feed could be carried out from 2008-13 in the province as the required laboratory was completed in 2014. He said the government was introducing new fish seeds that would solve the issues of protein and food shortage in the province. He said seed of cost effective fish called Talapia has been prepared at province’s own hatchery. Previously, he said, the seed of this fish was being imported from Thailand. He said this fish would be available in the market at Rs200-225 per kg and would decrease people’s reliance on costly mutton and beef.

PML-N’s Sami Ullah Khan drew attention of the chair towards empty officials’ gallery. He said administrative officers were not giving due attention and respect to this august House as they should have been present during the questions about their departments. The Speaker directed the law minister to direct the secretaries concerned to ensure presence of relevant officers during the PA proceedings.

Later, an argument developed between Minister for Prosecution Chaudhry Zaheeruddin and opposition members from Chiniot, namely PPPs Syed Hassan Murtaza and PML-N’s Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, which infuriated the opposition members to point out lack of quorum in the House. The treasury members failed in completing the quorum leading to chair adjourning the session without initiating debate on the annual report of Punjab Public Service Commission for the year 2011. Minister Chaudhry Zaheeruddin had pointed out, on a lighter vein, that fake reports of huge gold reserves in Chiniot, the constituency of Syed Hassan Murtaza and Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, were being floated. PML-N’s Ilyas Chinioti objected to the minister’s remarks, terming it derogatory and asking the chair to direct the minister to withdraw it.

But since the minister argued that he was not serious in his remarks, Maulana Ilyas Chinioti announced staging a walkout in protest. However, some opposition members indicated the shortage of quorum at the moment.

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