Social Welfare parliamentary secretary concedes saying ‘department in slumber for past sixty years’
PTI lawmaker demands tribute to women on International Women’s Day
LAHORE: The Social Welfare and Baitul Maal department of the Punjab government on Wednesday admitted that the department couldn’t take any concrete steps to rein in the beggars that people face at every nook and corner of the mega cities including Lahore while perturbing the public on major roads and traffic signals.
Parliamentary leader of Jamaate Islami (JI) Dr Waseem Akhtar had raised objections during the 34th session of the Punjab Assembly over the transgender and women who he said “started begging as soon as the vehicles stop at a traffic signal”, and sought a policy from the department to tackle them.
In a written answer submitted in response to the JI leader’s objections, the department said that beggars could be seen at major roundabouts of the city, that was an illegal act and the Vagrancy Ordinance 1958 provided shelter homes to them, but the responsibility to take these beggars into custody was that of the police as the department had nothing to do in this regard.
Parliamentary Secretary of the Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Ilyas Ansari said on the occasion that several legal glitches existed that did not allow the department to take prompt action against the beggars and there was a dire need to have a detailed discussion in order to amend and further legislate the rules of the department.
Ansari, an MPA from Faisalabad (PP-65), said that it was not the job of the department to arrest the beggars as the department could only rehabilitate them according to the existing law. He further added that a beggar could be imprisoned for at least three months to two years under the Vagrancy Ordinance 1958 but the department was not authorised to do so.
“As many as 1,659 beggars were arrested during the year 2016-17, but these arrests were only for the time being and not a single beggar could undergo the said imprisonment of three months to two years,” he said.
When the parliamentary secretary repeatedly stressed the need to amend the rules for his department, Faiza Malik of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stood on her seat while asking what the government had done in the past ten years during its two consecutive tenures to make amendments in the laws of the department to tackle beggars.
“I think the government was in deep slumber for the past ten years and now had woken up just to amend the rules. This house must be told what they did in the last ten years,” said Faiza.
The parliamentary secretary surprised many including the media persons sitting in the Press Gallery when he said that the department was in slumber for the past sixty years instead of ten years as it couldn’t do anything to tackle these beggars.
Earlier, Nabeela Hakim Ali of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded to pay a tribute to women on the International Women’s Day scheduled to be observed on Thursday (today) in the Punjab Assembly and the speaker assured her that the arrangements had been made. The discussion took an interesting turn when Dr Waseem Akhtar of the JI said that there should also be a day reserved for men, like the one for women, which he said was observed with great fervor.
Seven bills were supposed to be passed by the Treasury, but not even a single one could be taken up due to the collapse of quorum that was pointed out by Dr Murad Raas of the PTI. The speaker adjourned the session for twenty minutes that spanned for over two hours and the government couldn’t meet the quorum even after two hours that compelled the speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal to adjourn the session till Friday morning.