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Post-budget debate: Treasury members’ absence mars PA session

Faizan Bangash
Saturday, Jun 22, 2024

LAHORE: The Punjab government had to face an embarrassing situation on Friday after the Punjab Assembly session had to be adjourned due to the absence of finance minister in the post-budget session.

The PA session started with a delay of nearly half an hour with Deputy Speaker Zaheer Iqbal Channar in chair. In the beginning, the government had to face criticism when it was found that only two ruling party MPAs - Mehwish Sultana and Zakiya Shah Nawaz - were present in the House. Three Opposition MPAs present in the PA at the time of the beginning of the session were Rana Aftab Ahmad, Rana Shehbaz and Brig (retd) Mushtaq Ahmad. Expressing anger over the non-serious attitude of ruling party MPAs as well as the cabinet members, deputy speaker stated the absence of Treasury benches members was beyond understanding. Senior Opposition legislator Rana Aftab Ahmad on the occasion said the empty Treasury benches were making a mockery of the entire House and added that it seemed the government had no concern with such an important matter. Another opposition MPA Rana Shehbaz stated if the ministers had no time, it was better to hold debate on budget after Ashura. He said the House had to hold a debate on budget but the ministers were sleeping. The deputy speaker on the occasion announced to adjourn the session. After the proceedings were resumed, Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan stated the PTI had given a call of protest but its workers were being arrested. He asked the government to answer under which law, the peaceful rallies had been banned. Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman, who joined the session after a long wait, on the occasion stated the government had not barred anyone from holding protests. However, he said if the roads were blocked in protests, the government would take action.

Meanwhile, PPP MPA Mumtaz Chang while speaking on the floor of the House, threatened to sit on Opposition benches if the grievances of his areas were not addressed. He demanded the Punjab government to pay attention towards the miseries of his constituency or make it a part of Sindh. He also said that he was ready to provide a piece of land for the setting up of university.