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July 16, 2019

Hamza, Salman non-production orders mar Punjab PA session

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July 16, 2019

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly session was marred Monday by both opposition and treasury which made it impossible for the chair to continue the session and it was prorogued without discussing price-hike and law and order situation, for which it was convened on the requisition of opposition.

The opposition members began protesting against non-production of jailed Leader of the Opposition Hamza Shahbaz and former health minister Kh Salman Rafiq after learning that deputy speaker Dost Khan Mazari had refused to issue their production orders. The opposition’s protest against the deputy speaker drew response from the treasury benches when the former did not allow Minister for Colonies Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan to speak.

Chohan was harsh on the opposition’s leadership for committing corruption during their tenures. Whenever he tried to speak, the opposition members shouted slogans and desk thumping, leading to a complete chaos which forced the deputy speaker to prorogue the session.

On a point of order, PML-N’s Rana Muhammad Iqbal drew attention of the chair towards non-issuance of production orders for jailed opposition leaders. He said the opposition leadership should have been allowed to represent their voters in the House on vital national issues. PML-N’s Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan said the treasury took the credit of amending assembly rules to enable speaker to issue production orders for detained legislators.

He said the opposition supported the treasury in amending rules, but it only benefitted treasury member Abdul Aleem Khan, who was produced for attending meetings of four standing committees or House proceedings for 80 days out of 110 days of detention.

Without making direct accusations, Mashood asked the treasury to take the House into confidence if there was any external pressure to keeping Hamza and Salman Rafiq behind bars during House proceedings. “Opposition will stand by you to foil the conspiracies against assembly traditions and supremacy,” he said, accusing that government of giving misleading information on the matter. Regarding the fresh allegations on Sharif family from ERRA funds, Mashood said quake hit the country in 2005 when Shahbaz Sharif was in exile and he returned in 2007. He said the PPP was in power in the Centre and Asad Umar and Shafqat Mehmood were representatives of ERRA in Punjab, asking how could Shahbaz have embezzled funds and sent money abroad.

He said the people could not be fooled by levelling allegations against the PML-N president. He said time was not far when the sitting ministers and advisers would be jailed. He said the opposition would not allow the treasury to run the House on the dictation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Law Minister Raja Basharat said opposition should show political maturity since the session had been convened on its requisition and they were not ready to follow their own agenda. He said the word Sicilian Mafia has been used for the PML-N leadership by higher judiciary and not the treasury.

He said production orders was prerogative of the speaker which could not be challenged at any forum. Referring to the story published by the Daily Mail, he said allegations against Shahbaz have come from abroad and not Rawalpindi.

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