Pakistan News

Five resolutions sail smoothly through a thin House

Five resolutions sail smoothly through a thin House

LAHORE: On the 14th and last day of its session, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed five resolutions covering issues from terrorism to hot borders to prices of the meat and naming buildings or roads after Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

As usual, the sitting started some 40 minutes late than it scheduled time and was quickly ran through the agenda fixed for the day – a question hour on “Irrigation and Social Welfare”, which proved to be a perfunctory affair, and six resolutions by private members.

What helped make the course of the sitting even more quick and smooth was the members’ thin attendance which never went beyond 47 – almost half of what is procedurally required to run the House. And those in attendance were more interested in cross talk, rather than business of the House.

Ramaish Singh Arora, a minority member belonging to the Treasury, asked the House, through a resolution, to name some buildings or roads in the province after Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who had ruled the area for four decades and was the first native ruler.

“His (Maharaja’s) rule has been a period of interfaith harmony and socio-economic prosperity for the area. He deserves to be remembered in a better way,” insisted Mr Arora.

Ahsan Riaz Fitayana from the Opposition tried to oppose the resolution saying other historic personalities also deserve to remembered in the same way, but quickly withdrew when Rana Sanaullah, the law minister, reminded him that every community living in Punjab had its own heroes and the demand should not be linked to other figures and faiths. The resolution was carried through without any opposition.

Other resolutions also treated in a similar way. Mian Aslam Iqbal had asked the House to condemn “terrorism and praise those fighting it and those losing their lives in the process be given full economic and social benefits.” As expected, no one in the House opposed the resolution.

Similarly, Khadija Umer demanded the House should condemn killings on the Working Boundary as a result of unprovoked Indian firing and salute those resisting Indian aggression. She, understandably, found the House standing behind her on both issues.

Dr Waseem Akhter demanded the House to put its weight behind quick assessment of floods damanges and “complete restoration of normal life” in the affected areas while Sabtain Khan sought meat sale on official rates. Both resolutions were adopted quickly by the House.

The only exception was Nabila Hakam Ali, who wanted to abolish entrance test for admission to varsities and medical colleges but found law minister opposing the idea with a promise to discuss the entire issue in the House because “the arguments for and against the issue were weighty and needed thorough discussion in the House. He asked the mover to withdraw the resolution and bring an adjournment motion on the issue and the Treasury would cooperate in the debate. Ms Nabila obliged, wrapping up the agenda for the day. The chair prorogued the session.

Earlier, on a point of order, the law minister, who had been part of the official team negotiating with the protesting farmers, told the House that a meeting with the federal government was held on farmers’ demand, but remained inconclusive – at least for now. He said the world prices of different agricultural commodities had dropped, foreclosing the possibility of export. Neither the federal nor the provincial government could spare a huge sum to purchase and then subsidise agricultural commodities, he said. The export regime belonged to the federal government, which was trying to find ways of clearing the domestic glut and hopefully, it would come up with a solution. For now, things were in limbo, he admitted.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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