LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Monday witnessed first serious clash between the coalition partners in the past two and a half years over the issue of corruption, and that too in the presence of Leader of the House, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, whose rare presence in the House provoked PPPs Shaukat Basra to give vent to his feelings on the subject. In what seemed to be a manoeuvred move by the PPP to give a 'tit-for-tat reply to the PML-N for latters oft-repeated talk of corruption at the federal level, it was for the first time that the two parties came face to face in the assembly, though both sides observed caution in choice of words. Speaking on a point of order, the PPP legislator, in his emotional speech, came down hard on the provincial bureaucracy for committing corruption and showing no respect to the elected representatives of the people. This was enough to give offence to Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah, who snubbed the PPP legislator, saying that if he had any complaint against police and civil officers, he had better brought the matter in the House through a privilege motion instead of agitating the issue on a point of order. About alleged corruption in provincial departments, the law minister replied that government was ready to hold debate on corruption but it should also cover the entire Pakistan. This had the implied meaning that corruption at the federal level would also be discussed in the House. Sana also denied corruption in provincial departments on the plea that no corruption scandal involving provincial hierarchy had surfaced in the media till date. The emotionally charged Rana Sana did not even spare Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal, as he told him that he should not have allowed Basra to deliver a full 10-minute speech on a point of order. This is understandable that tense relations between the PPP and the PML-N at the centre had their bearings on their relationship in Punjab as well where the two are coalition partners. This was also an indication that it would not be a usual business in the days to come. The debate on corruption was also followed by exchange of hot words between PPP and PML-N legislators, as one of the PML-N member Rai Ejaz Hussain passed derogatory remakes against President Zardari but the matter was settled as he later apologised on assembly floor for his objectionable behaviour. When law minister was still busy grilling the PPP legislator, the members had to observe silence for a minute or so, as call for prayer was aired in the House. This cooled down the tempers on both sides to some extent, and in the meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister decided to respond to the annoyed PPP legislator himself. Unlike offensive attitude of his law minister, Shahbaz Sharif adopted a defensive posture by admitting prevalence of corruption in provincial departments. Yes, there is corruption in departments. Our history is replete with stories of corruption which breeds poverty and unemployment, the CM told the House in a sober manner without retaliating to the Basras remarks, and at the same time dropping a hint at corruption committed by PPP leaders. He said he would take the House into confidence about the measures his government had taken to end corrupt practices from provincial departments. After the CM had left the House, Senior Punjab Minister Raja Riaz was quick to point out that PPP was not a partner in corruption at the provincial level, as not a single financial scandal involving his partys ministers had been reported so far. Interestingly, commenting on the same subject a couple of weeks back, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah had said that government had evolved such a mechanism that PPP ministers had been rendered helpless to commit any corruption. In a reconciliatory tone, Raja Riaz, however, assured the House that PPP would continue its policy of reconciliation with the PML-N in Punjab as per directions of party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.