Despite PML-N bashing by two PPP ministers, the coalition partners – certainly for a common cause – at the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday discreetly colluded against the Opposition to thwart latter’s resolution against the Reformed General Sales Tax when against parliamentary tradition, a Treasury member pointed out quorum on a Private Members’ Day.
Surely this bailed out the PML-N from taking a clear stance about the RGST at the provincial level, while the PPP was able to help its seniors sitting in Islamabad securing ‘no reply’ on the subject from the highest house of the biggest province. The resolution was an appeal to the Federal government not to take decision of levying the RGST.
Much to the annoyance of the Opposition members, who also shouted ‘shame’ for the Treasury benches, the Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan adjourned the House till Wednesday morning 10 am after the government desks successfully made it certain that the House does not stay quorate after PPP’s apparently-annoyed MPA Syed Hassan Murtaza had pointed out the inquorate House after the Speaker had allowed him neither to bring ‘a supposed Adjournment Motion’ nor speak.
After a delayed start to the day’s proceedings, when the House was through with the Question-Hour, only two Adjournment Motions had been picked up for discussion, on a Point of Order Hassan tried to seek out the Speaker to present an out-of-turn Adjournment Motion, which was declined despite repeated pleadings from the MPA. “This has been pre-decided with the parliamentary leaders of all political parties in the Business Advisory Committee meeting that no out-of-turn Adjournment Motions will be considered,” mentioned the Speaker clearly to an adamant Member, who averred. “This is none of my fault if the parliamentary leader does not speak for his members,” opined the MPA, while the Speaker was in a state of denial thoroughly, and did not allow Hassan to say anything further, and the latter ‘used the option of pointing out the quorum as per his sweet will’ despite the fact that the Speaker observed, “You (Hassan) are a Treasury member, and on a Private Members’ Day, you are not supposed to do this”.
Counting, 5-minute bell-ringing and recounting with no one being serious about calling members to the Floor, proved that the House had only 55-members in attendance; hence the Speaker adjourned the House, which annoyed the Opposition, and its member Dr Samia Amjad perhaps rightly pointed out that all drama was enacted to avoid RGST resolution, and to her, the PML-N was party to it.
This episode inside the House initiated a spree of bartering allegations among the prominent players of the political parties, who made all-out efforts for putting the onus of the ‘annoying episode’ on to the other/s.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah, while talking to the media outside the Assembly, offered the PML-Q to reintroduce the resolution, and assured that the Treasury would not hinder it. “The appropriate forum for addressing this issue is the National Assembly,” he advised the Opposition, while adding that the Q-League wanted to bring the resolution in order to lessen its embarrassment caused to it because of its ‘hypocrisy’ when it staged walkout from the Senate to help the Treasury there in getting the RGST recommendation passed by the highest house of Pakistan. “The bunch of opportunists will never choose the right forum for opposing the RGST,” he commented.
In a media talk, Hassan Murtaza denied the assertion that his act of pointing out the inquorate House was aimed at supporting his Party’s national government, and asserted that keeping the quorum intact was not his responsibility. He also rejected the contention that he had an understanding with his party leadership on the issue of pointing out quorum.
Opposition members Dr Samia Amjad, mover of the resolution Khalid Javaid Asghar, Aamir Sultan Cheema, Khadija Umer Farooqi and Majida Zaidi were of the considered opinion that as part of an understanding with the PPP, N-League MPAs left the Floor when the resolution was about to be moved.