The Question-Hour was a more-than-a-routine as a matter of fact, but the later barter of allegations by the coalition partners at the Punjab Assembly on Monday was certainly far less important than the official business of legislating the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2010.
Most of the time was spent in tit-for-tat argumentation among the PPP and N-Leagues leaders, and Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, instead of initiating legislation, adjourned the proceedings till Tuesday 10 am without finishing the agenda items. Apparently, the tangible reason was of impending inquorate house since the Opposition had already pointed the quorum once, and if it would have been done for the second time, the Treasury would have eaten humble pie certainly. Hence, neither the legislation was carried out nor general discussion on price hike of essential commodities continued or concluded.
The amendment in the Local Government Ordinance 2001 were earlier passed in the fourth week of February in which the last term of the LGs was brought to an abrupt end, and administrators were appointed, and it was legislated that the time for elections would be announced within next 180 days, which had lapsed in August. So the legislation must have been carried out before expiry of the time limit sought in the legislation, but the Assembly is yet to take it up though the present working of the LGs is in doubt. One wonders about the current legal status of the administrators as well.
Surely realising the importance of legislation – Assembly is obviously responsible for it as a primary duty – Opposition’s Mohsin Khan Leghari suggested the coalition to discuss these matters in the parliamentary meetings instead of bringing them on the Floor of Assembly, and wasting precious time of the House. Law Minister raised serious objection to it asserting that Leghari could not stop anybody from talking about different matters. To this, Leghari retorted by saying that if the coalition was talking about corruption in the Local Governments, and stories were run across the media, then the Drawing and Disbursing Officers, that is, the District Coordination Officers, were enjoying prime postings.
When Senior Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed had finished his bitter diatribe again a media group and its anchorperson, PPP members raised pro-Zardari slogans.
Later, Raja Riaz mentioned derogatory statement of President Supreme Court Bar Association Qazi Muhammad Anwar about all the assemblies, and demanded resolution. However, Rana Sana quizzed the Senior Minister about his party fellow Babar Awan’s handing over of Rs 1million cheque to Qazi Anwar. “First verify the news, and the status of the relationship, I have no objection to bringing resolution,” he observed. However, the matter seemed to be settled when PML-N’s Rana Ijaz Ahmed Khan opposed bringing the resolution. “We deem it irresponsibility,” he objected.