- Resolution denouncing US drone attack inside Pakistan adopted unanimously
Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, chairing the 21st session of the Punjab Assembly on Monday, referred the matter pertaining to wheat procurement for the next year to the standing committees on agriculture and food following a debate between the food minister and opposition over fairness of the ongoing wheat procurement drive.
The two committees will take the suggestions and input of the lawmakers in order to prepare a comprehensive mechanism for wheat procurement, as a number of complaints emerged this year during the process of wheat procurement in the province.
As the House took up the government business, Food Minister Bilal Yasin opened a general discussion on the procurement of wheat by delivering a speech. “I visited all the divisional headquarters of the province four times during the wheat procurement drive. Even a control room was also established in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to address the grievances of farmers. In all, 1,400 complaints were received by the Food Department and all were taken care of,” the minister said, adding, “However, it is not the government’s responsibility to provide gunny bags to every individual. The ultimate responsibility of the government is to make sure that all farmers have sold their whole stock of wheat. And the government is successful in its mission.”
Taking part in the debate, Sardar Vickas Hassan Mokal, a lawmaker from Kasur district, criticised the existing mechanism of wheat procurement. He said it was a dilemma of the province that “our Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed is a doctor by profession, while Bilal Yasin is enjoying the portfolio for food minister just because of his association with Lahore”.
Mokal said there was a need to revamp and devolve the whole system of wheat procurement at the grass-roots level, arguing that the system would not improve just by raids of the food minister on wheat procurement centres. He also said that the government needed to install CCTV cameras at all wheat procurement centres across the province next year.
On his turn, Ahmed Khan Bhachar from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said the government had failed to mitigate the role of middleman in the wheat procurement drive.
“I am an agriculturist and I know the nitty-gritty of wheat procurement very well. Forty lakh metric tonnes wheat cannot be procured in just 20 days without the intervention of middlemen,” he said, and urged the speaker to look into the matter.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah also urged the speaker to strengthen the standing committees concerned to prepare a robust mechanism for next year’s wheat procurement drive. “Hundreds of complaints surfaced this year which shows that there was something wrong in the mechanism for wheat procurement and these loopholes must be addressed next year,” added Sanaullah.
Moreover, the House unanimously passed a resolution denouncing US drone attack inside Pakistan in which Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was reportedly killed.
The mover of the resolution, Leader of Opposition Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, urged the federal government to record its protest by calling the US ambassador to the Foreign Office.
Later the session was adjourned till Tuesday (10:00 am) after it commenced at 4:00 PM two hours behind its schedule. The chief minister did not attend the proceedings although his security staff was present in the assembly secretariat.