Opposition stages walkout over Panama adjournment motion

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  • Education Minister Mashhood says government striving to improve school education
  • House passes resolution demanding federal govt take up B’desh JI chief sentence with OIC

Raising anti-government slogans, the opposition in the Punjab Assembly staged a walkout from the House on Friday after Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed was not allowed to table an adjournment motion on the Panama Papers leaks.

Earlier, the 21st session of the Punjab Assembly commenced under the chair of its Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan after a delay of two hours from its scheduled time of 5:00 pm.

At the outset of the proceedings, Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood, while answering the questions put to his ministry, said that the provincial government had been striving to improve the school education by introducing modern techniques of training and evaluation.

“A mechanism to impart proper training to teachers has been introduced as the Punjab government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of London,” the minister said while answering a supplementary question put by Muhammad Arshad Malik, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz legislator from Sahiwal.

Malik observed that the condition of schools in his constituency was extremely poor and he was shocked to see that some schools were harvesting different crops on their premises.

The House expressed surprise when it was brought to its knowledge that there was not a single school in Lahore’s Youhanabad area having Christian population of 1,50,000.

Upon this, Mashhood said that funds had been sanctioned and work on construction of a school in the Christian-majority area was in progress.

Nevertheless, Shehzad Munshi, who was elected to the House on a minority seat, in his supplementary question said that the very school was being built in the adjacent colony of Youhanabad and that the contractors were not building it according to the approved map.

Upon this, Mashhood said that a committee would be constituted under the supervision of the EDO (Education) to probe the matter and it would submit its report within three days.

Meanwhile, a resolution was approved unanimously, condemning the decision of the Supreme Court in Bangladesh to uphold the death sentence of country’s largest Islamic party Jamat-e-Islami’s leader Motiur Rahman Nizami.

The resolution was presented by Jamat-e-Islami’s parliamentary leader Dr Waeem Akhtar.

The resolution demands the federal government raise this sensitive matter at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as Nizami was being victimised because he had shown his allegiance with Pakistan in 1971.

Earlier in the day, the Press Gallery boycotted coverage of the proceedings and held a protest against the Okara Police for registering FIRs against 17 journalists.

The speaker asked the parliamentary leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami to persuade the media personnel and bring them back.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, speaking on a point of order, demanded release of journalists in Okara and requested the chair to intervene.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah ensured the House that the matter would be resolved amicably as he had talked to the DPO Okara and RPO Sahiwal.

The House witnessed uproar when the opposition leader said his adjournment motion regarding the Panama Papers leaks was not being allowed and opposition members started raising anti-government slogans when Law Minister Sanaullah tried to respond to him.

“We are ready to have a debate over the Panama Papers in this august house on the condition that the opposition will not stage a walkout during the discussion, but they do not have the courage to listen to the wrongdoings of its leadership,” said Sanaullah.

The opposition staged a walkout and the session was adjourned due to the lack of quorum till Monday.