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April 27, 2019

Ruckus in Punjab PA as deputy speaker suspends three opposition MPs’ membership

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April 27, 2019

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly witnessed tumultuous proceedings on Friday after the opposition members belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) confronted Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari, raised slogans against him and refused to acknowledge his seat.

The commotion led to the situation where the deputy speaker suspended the membership of three PML-N members including Pir Ashraf Rasool, Azma Zahid Bukhari and Rana Abdul Rauf. The opposition members pointed out quorum, but the treasury managed to maintain it after 20 minutes.

The trouble began during the question hour when Agriculture Minister Nauman Langrial and Parliamentary Secretary Tahir Randhawa failed to inform a questioner that how many persons had been booked for selling fake fertilisers in Gujrat district. PML-N’s Azma Bukhari rose to put a supplementary question, but the deputy speaker asked her to sit down. She tried to put the question, on which deputy speaker said: “You sit down; you stand up on every question.”

This admonishment angered Azma Bukhari, who said that the opposition had always respected the chair, but perhaps the deputy speaker had not learnt how to command respect. She said the opposition members did not come into the house for talking nonsense.

PML-N’s Pir Ashraf Rasool rose to help out his colleague and asked the deputy speaker to stop misbehaving with honourable woman members, and added that perhaps the deputy speaker had not learnt how to respect women. He also announced that they did not acknowledge him as deputy speaker. Rana Abdul Rauf also joined in and asked the chair to withdraw his words.

By that time, members from both sides had begun speaking loudly in favour of or against the deputy speaker. His refusal to withdraw his words invited all opposition members to protest against him. They began raising slogans against him. During this booing and shouting, the DG Research Punjab Assembly Inayatullah Lak took the Punjab Assembly Rules book to the desk of deputy speaker and indicated the rule that empowers the chair to suspend membership of any member.

The deputy speaker read out the relevant rule and announced suspending the membership of Pir Akhtar Rasool. This announcement prompted the opposition members to walk out of the house in protest. The memberships of Azma Bukhari and Rana Abdul Rauf were suspended during a meeting at the speaker’s chambers afterwards in which Inayatullah Lak, Information Minister Samsam Bukhari, Provincial Minister Mohsin Leghari and PPP’s Makhdoom Usman were also present.

During the absence of majority of opposition members, the PML-N members, Tariq Gill and Mian Tahir Jamil, pointed out the quorum in the house. The deputy speaker ordered ringing of bells for over 20 minutes after which the treasury members managed to maintain quorum.

Earlier, the opposition members accused the government of making solo flight on Local Government Bill 2019 after Law Minister Raja Basharat presented the bill in the house after its approval by the standing committee. PML-N’s Samiullah Khan said the bill contained over 300 sections, but the government had not presented any of them in the standing committee for discussion and approval through voting.

Other opposition members alleged that the bill was not subjected to voting in the standing committee and the government had bulldozed the opposition while approving the bill. They warned that all stakeholders should be listened to before passing the bill.

Malik Ahmad Khan said all governments had been bringing the local government bills of their own choice and the PTI could also do that, but the standing committees of the house had their own scope and procedure, which must not be violated. He alleged that the PTI government had made the local government bill a matter of prestige for it.

When the chair asked Law Minister Raja Basharat to reply to the opposition’s objections, the minister admitted that government was determined to pass the bill by all means and also added that the bill had now become a matter of prestige for the government.

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