LAHORE-The Treasury on Monday was forced to postpone government business for another day, as majority of its legislators as well as government officials whose presence at the time of legislation is mandatory, had left for their homes well before the closing time of Assembly’s Monday sitting.

The Assembly was scheduled to remain in session till 8 pm and to take up eight different bills for adoption. But Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal adjourned the House around one hour before the scheduled time after receiving a chit from Senior Advisor to the CM, Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa who most probably informed him about non-availability of the members. 

The Treasury had, in fact, anticipated pointing out of quorum by the Opposition at the start of legislation, and also knew that it did not have enough members left to keep the House quorate.

Previously, it was the duty of Principal Secretary to the CM, Syed Tauqeer Shah to ensure presence of treasury members in the Assembly, but after his transfer on Sunday, no alternate arrangement was in place for Monday to do his job. In the last few days, Mr Tauqeer Shah was seen surrounded by PML-N legislators affixing signatures on their files. His presence in the Assembly would mean that it would not take much time for the Treasury to complete the quorum whenever it is pointed out.

The following eight bills were on the agenda of Monday’s Assembly business, but could not be passed due to the quorum issue. “The Ghazi University Bill”, “The PPSC (Amendment) Bill”, “The Provincial Motor Vehicle (Amendment ) Bill”, “The Punjab Agricultural Pesticides (Amendment) Bill”, “The Punjab Industrial And Commercial Employment (Standing Orders) (Amendment) Bill”, “The Punjab Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill”, The Punjab Workers’ Children (Education) (Amendment) Bill” and “The Punjab Bonded Labour System (Abolition) (Amendment) Bill”.  These bills would now be taken by the Assembly on Tuesday (today) or some other day depending on government’s convenience.

Earlier, the House had a brief debate on the issue of pointing out of quorum by the Opposition. Despite accepting Opposition’s right to point out quorum, Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah insisted that he could only ensure a quorate House at the time of legislation and expected of the Opposition not to ‘bother’ the Treasury unnecessarily during rest of the proceedings.

As the discussion dragged further, it also exposed dissension within the Opposition on the issue. The Assembly witnessed exchange of hot words between PPP’s Maj. (R) Abdur Rehman and lady legislators of the PML-Q when the former observed that members should not gesticulate at the Press Gallery after pointing out of the quorum. He was of the view that it was serious matter and legislators should not make a mockery of it.

Taking offence from these remarks, the PML-Q ladies which included Samina Khawar Hayat, Seemal Kamran and Khadeja Omer, started shouting at the retired Major. A veteran parliamentarian from PPP, Syed Nazim Hussain Shah intervened to cool the tempers on both sides but it took him quite some time to restore normalcy in the House. The Speaker also did his part of the duty by reciting “Order in the House” mantra.

The House also witnessed a couple of protests on Monday by female legislators from the Opposition against police inaction over incidents of house robbery and roadside dacoity. Sajida Mir of PPP raised the issue of robbery at her sister’s house, while Neelum Jabbar drew Chair’s attention towards a dacoity incident on Sheikhupura Road when she was travelling in a car. Neelum left the House in protest when law minister told the House that despite his repeated attempts the concerned police officer was not taking his calls. Neelum had alleged that she had seen robbers taking refugee in the nearby House of SSP after the incident.