LAHORE - After having been ousted from power and later facing police action during the long march, Monday was the right time for the PTI and the PML-Q to settle scores with the PML-N by dictating their terms in return for smooth proceedings of the House during presentation of the Punjab budget.

It was for the first time in Punjab’s history that a sitting government could not present the annual budget in the assembly due to the obstacles created by Speaker Assembly Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

In the business advisory committee meeting which continued for six hours with intervals, the Opposition led by Speaker Punjab Assembly put forward its demand that all the cases instituted against the opposition leaders and the assembly staff should be withdrawn and the IGP and the chief secretary should come to the assembly and seek apology individually from each member for the injustice they had done with them during and after the long march.

 

The government side eventually conceded the first demand and agreed to withdraw the cases. In respect of the second demand, the treasury members told the Opposition members that they could move a privilege motion against the IGP and the chief secretary and summon them to explain their position before the privilege committee of the house. However, Opposition and the Speaker were not satisfied with the government’s offer.

 

After prolonged negotiations, the Speaker finally agreed to start the Assembly proceedings. However, at the very outset, the speaker told Law Minister Mohammad that he would not allow the finance minister Awais Leghari to present the budget unless and until the chief minister is present in the House and the chief secretary and the IGP show up in the official gallery. He also declared that before presentation of the budget, he will give time to the opposition members to vent their anger about the police excesses.

| Opposition, treasury benches continue protests against each other for several hours

Session adjourned till today

Law Minister Mohammad Ahmad Khan assured the chair that the chief minister will be in the House the moment the finance minister starts the budget speech. He also pleaded that presence of the chief secretary and the IGP in the house was not legally required in the presence of the chief minister and the law minister. He also assured that the government will address all the grievances of the opposition members regarding the police action against them.

 

‘A stranger in the House’

Meanwhile, Ch Zaheeruddin of the PTI drew the chair’s attention towards a stranger in the House. He pointed out that Attaullah Tarar was not a member of the Assembly and hence could not sit in the House.

 

Law minister told the chair that Attaullah Tarar had taken oath as provincial minister and could sit in the assembly in that capacity. But the speaker was not convinced and ordered the sergeant-at-arms to take him out of the house. When the sergeant-at-arms, a police official, got near the seat where Tarar was sitting, the treasury members gave their colleague a security cover by making a protective human shield around him. The police official just stayed there for a while but returned after some time without completing the assigned task. The Speaker meanwhile kept asking Atta Tarar to leave the House. Some of the treasury members went to the Speaker and showed him the relevant rules according to which a minister who is not an elected member could sit in the assembly for a specific period.

 

After failing to get Tarar expelled from the House, the speaker adjourned the House for ten minutes saying he would not allow the finance minister unless Tarar is out of the House and the Chief Minister, the IGP and the CS are present in the house. The Speaker returned after half an hour after getting assurance that Tarar will be out the moment the Speaker takes his seat.

 

Atta Tarar left the House at his own and one of the demands of the opposition was fulfilled. Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif also entered the House after his exit. Now the Speaker insisted on having the CS and the IGP in the House to listen to what the opposition members had to say about their attitude. The government did not concede this demand and the Speaker adjourned the sitting till Tuesday (1pm).

 

While talking to reporters after the sitting, Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz said that the chief secretary and the IGP will not come to the assembly tomorrow because they would not be safe here. “Don’t you remember what they did with the deputy speaker? ‘’ he asked.