PA session postponed again to avoid opposition’s protest

  • Opposition threatens to hold session on Punjab assembly’s stairs


LAHORE: The government has once again avoided the session of the Punjab assembly in an abrupt way. The Punjab governor issued the summoning order on Saturday for the 34th session of the assembly to be commenced on Monday, but the assembly secretariat issued a notification on the same day for the postponement of the session.

The assembly secretariat did not cite any reason for the postponement, however, Pakistan Today has learnt that the government has further postponed the much-awaited session to avoid the severe criticism of the opposition and avoid the protest demonstration of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) that is also scheduled just outside the Punjab assembly at Charing Cross next week. The opposition parties on Saturday also moved an application to the Lahore commissioner for their protest demonstration at the Charing Cross against the Model Town killings and demanded security and administrative arrangements in this regard.

The opposition has reacted strongly to the postponement of the session and has termed it an undemocratic act of the Punjab government. Talking to Pakistan Today, leader of the opposition Mian Mehmood-ur-Rashid said that the government is frightened to convene the session as the opposition has asked several questions from the leader of the house, Shehbaz Sharif, and also demanded his presence in the august house to seek answers from him. He further added that the opposition in the Punjab assembly wants a general debate over several issues ranging from the corruption scandals of 56 companies of the Punjab government that were established under the public-private partnership, a debate over the report of the Justice Baqir Najafi commission, and a detailed reply from the Punjab chief minister over his party’s continuous verbal attacks on the institution of judiciary.

“We’ll convene the session of opposition parties at the stairs of the assembly if the government fails to summon the session during the ongoing month,” he said while adding that he has also convened the meeting of the parliamentary parties of the opposition including the PPP, PML-Q, PTI and JI next week.

The Punjab government has avoided the assembly session for the second time during the last two months as the 33rd session was also prorogued after holding the sittings for only two days in November as workers of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah were holding a sit-in outside the Punjab assembly over the issue of finality of prophethood at that time under the leadership of Dr Ashraf Asif Jalali.

Qazi Ahmed Saeed, a parliamentary leader of the PPP in the Punjab assembly, told Pakistan Today that the government has lost its grip over its own MPAs, and so, is now using these tactics to delay the session of the assembly.

“The tragic incident of Kasur is looming over the government and it is expecting severe criticism from the opposition on the issue while the issue of the resignation of some MPAs is also haunting the government and therefore it is reluctant to convene the session,” he added.

Numbers game:

According to the rules of business, the Punjab assembly must at least meet for 100 days in the whole parliamentary year but seven months of the ongoing year that commenced on June 1, 2017, have already passed, and the assembly could meet for only 43 days.

It is pertinent to mention here that the assembly session can be summoned in two ways. The first way is to convene the session through a summoning order by the governor of the province and this is the way that is normally adopted by the government. The second way is that the speaker of the assembly is bound to call the assembly session within a fortnight if one-fourth (1/4th) of the lawmakers of the total strength of the assembly send a requisition to the speaker.

It is important to note that there are 53 parliamentarians who sit on the opposition benches in the Punjab assembly, and the house has a total strength of 371 while a strength of 93 parliamentarians is required to send a requisition to the speaker to convene an assembly session.