LAHORE Members Punjab Assembly raised questions about the whereabouts of the Governor, constitutional standing of the Assemblys proceedings while Speaker Rana Iqbal was conducting the House when he should be the Acting Governor, and why Salman Taseer did not inform the government prior to leaving the country.
Interestingly, even the PPP ministers and members did not have any clue about the Governor, which allowed the 'N and 'Q Leagues MPAs to dilate upon the subject without any hindrance from any quarter.
The reports of Governors secret foreign visit without giving acting charge to Rana Iqbal triggered heated debate in the House, forcing the chair to adjourn the session for 15 minutes to know actual situation and avoid any constitution in the province.
When the session started after an hour and 50 minutes delay, MMAs emotional Ali Haider Noor Niazi, on a Point of Order, drew the attention of the chair towards reports of Salman Taseers leaving the country without fulfilling the constitutional requirements of giving charge to the acting governor. He stressed the speaker could not chair the session as he was acting governor after Salman Taseer left the country unceremoniously.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah counselled the speaker to confirm whether or not the governor was in the country as in his absence, he (speaker) was officiating governor and even did not require oath to assume the office. The Speaker adjourned the session for 15 minutes and after the short break Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood Ahmed conducted the proceedings of the House that focused on the Governors visit and looming constitutional crisis.
Before the short adjournment, Ali Haider Niazi said the Governor had proceeded on a secret foreign tour without obtaining ex-Pakistan leave.
You cannot chair the session as you are acting governor. You should avoid violation of the constitution and ask Deputy Speaker to chair the session, he suggested.
The house wants to know that why Salman Taseer violated the constitution. He has fled the country without approval and has no right to act as Punjab Governor, Niazi said.
Rana Sanaullah said a private television channel reported news of the Governors foreign visit at around 8:30 am and this report has yet to be confirmed. He said the Governors House had claimed Salman Taseer was in Hyderabad but the DCO concerned was unaware about his (governors) whereabouts.
As proceedings resumed after 15 minutes adjournment, Rana sought more time to confirm the actual whereabouts of Governor Punjab.
The Deputy Speaker said there was no confirmation and we should avoid talking merely on an assumption.
Opposition legislator Samina Khawar Hayat said the law minister was not having cordial relations with the governor and there was a possibility of the formers abducting the later. Senior Minister Raja Riaz said PPP would not allow the house proceedings if objectionable remarks against the Governor were not expunged.
Rana asked the chair to give 10 more minutes as, according to his reports, the Governor had started his journey from Dubai and could land at some place in the country in next 10-15 minutes.
Sheikh Allauddin said if the reports of Governors absence from the country were correct then the Assembly proceedings on Tuesday and Wednesday were unconstitutional.
Atta Muhammad Manika said the absence of governor was a unique incident and suggested to search the governors house.
Samina Khawar Hayat asked the coalition partners to tell the house about the whereabouts of Salman Taseer. The remarks of the lady legislator that her party should not be implicated in the case of missing governor caused laughter in the house.
Rana Sanaullah said the government was taking the issue seriously and informed the house that the federal government would be contacted to take appropriate action in this regard.