Saturday, November 15

Punjab’s Barack Obama ‘for change’

On Friday at the Punjab Assembly, it was a Question-Hour on Jails, Labour and Human Resource Departments, but it sounded as an Urdu replay of the recently concluded US elections where Barack Obama was elected as president for ‘change’, while Punjab Minister for Prisons Ch Abdul Ghafoor profusely repeated word ‘change’ in reply to every question making an explicit mockery of Obama’s ‘We are for change.’

Members on both sides of the political divide were amused by minister’s rhetoric of ‘change’ and lavish praise of his leadership, which can be considered as his best performance so far on the PA floor whenever he gets a chance to speak since he became minister.

It seemed to be all pre-determined, though the well-thought out expressions got a confused distortion, and the minister was lost and miserably failed in putting words grammatically-sequenced to impart meanings.

It all started when a question was tabled by a Treasury member Syed Hassan Murtaza seeking reply regarding riots in jails. To convince the questioner, Ch Ghafoor started his usual way by saying that there were two ways – traditional and through change – for dealing with jails. “But we will like a change in approach like the world has seen change in the US where Barack Hussain Obama had won. Change, change…,” was an outcome which he interrupted through his own sentences. “My duty is to tell facts, not hide. Our all leaders, president, prime minister, have been to jails, but we have to see a time of change…change…change will come. 80 per cent of the people here have gone to jails. We need change now for which the credit goes to Chief Minister Punjab, who increased food allocation for prisoners from Rs 19 to Rs 50,” said the minister, which was actually by the way only information of day for the members given by Ch Ghafoor.

In the post-Maghrib prayers session, the minister maintained that it was courtesy Shahbaz Sharif that the people were witnessing ‘change’ in jails. “If you want to confirm my assertions, I invite the members to visit jails,” he added.

Ch Ghafoor very gleefully said he had been imprisoned when Ch Shujaat Hussain and Ch Pervaiz Elahi had started joint struggle for democracy. “They used to trick us into jails after hobnobbing with the agencies,” he said.

Another Minister Ashraf Sohna, while replying to a question about child labour in the province, became emotional, and perhaps sans the realisation what was he saying, averred, “There is neither law nor rule in the Punjab, rather in Pakistan, which could protect six-month old (correction six-year old) girl from mopping floors while her poor parents have willingly sent her to others’ homes.”

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