LAHORE - PTI-led Opposition on Thursday staged a token walkout from Punjab Assembly against the fresh increase in prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff by the government.

Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, on a point of order, condemning the recent increase in prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff by the government led his colleagues on opposition benches for a token walkout to register protest against the hike but returned to the House after seven minutes on the request of the Treasury.

Opposition staged walkout from the House chanting slogans against the government saying the PML-N-led government at the Centre did another injustice with their electorate and the entire nation ahead of Eid.  Mehmood announced that PTI along with other opposition parties would approach the court to challenge the increase in prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff.  Earlier, Punjab Assembly session started with a delay of around one hour and five minutes with Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani in the chair.  The chair suspending the agenda asked the House to continue general debate on the Local Government Bill in which more than 15 legislators took part to present their proposals for preparation of a real act to establish district governance.

Ahmad Khan Bhachar, Mian Naseer, Mian Rafique, Waheed Gull, Mian Muhammad Aslam, Shehzad Munshi, Shameela Aslam, Anees Qureshi, Kiran Dar, Malik Ahmad Khan, Malik Ahmad Saeed, Abdul Qadeer Alvi and Asghar Ali Manda were prominent among the provincial legislators.  The mentioned members from Opposition and Treasury were unanimous on the proposals of increasing women seats for councilors as well as total seats of all urban and rural union councils.

They were also on the same page on the issue of holding local government elections on party-basis for upholding the true spirit of democracy and fair play in the local elections.

A minority member Shehzad Munshi suggested that office of the deputy mayor in the local governments’ should be fixed for the minorities.

Shameela Aslam demanded increase in women representation in the local governments to further empower the women folk of the society.

Asghar Manda proposed that local government elections should be held on old delimitations and chairman and deputy chairman should be elected through direct vote. Mian Naseer, while saying that the role of chief executive officer was not clear in the local government system, suggested that CE’s role should be defined clearly in the LB bill. He suggested that district government should be independent to collect their taxes.

Rana Sanaullah, Local Government and Law Minister, thanked the members for their suggestions on the bill and told the House that they would implement the decision of Supreme Court and hold local elections till September 15 of this year.

He said meetings of the Punjab Assembly’s special committee for reviewing the local government bill would continue for next four to five days and it would present its report on the bill in the next assembly session, which could be called soon after Eid.

Sanaullah said the Treasury would table the local government bill in the next session in a bid to get its early approval to meet Supreme Court’s orders to come up with local government act till 15 August.

He told the House that elected members of the local government would be given their due role in the district education and health offices, while the seats of women would be enhanced in the union councils from one to two after amending the bill.

The House also passed a resolution condemning the attacks on the holy places of Muslims especially the shrine of Hazrat Bibi Zainab (RA) and the mosque adjacent to the shrine of Hazrat Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) during the recent civil war in Syria.

The resolution stated that due to recent attacks on the holy places, sentiments of Muslims in Pakistan as well as across the world had been hurt, so the Syrian government should ensure security of the holy places in future.

The resolution suggested the federal government that it should make a demand to Syrian government to provide protection to all Muslim holy places from any warring faction.

The Punjab Assembly session was prorogued by the chair, which could be called next week after the Eid.