Punjab political crisis: CM Hamza, PA Speaker continue parallel journeys

Political crisis in Punjab has not ended yet as the chief minister Hamza Shehbaz and Speaker Pervaiz Elahi have continued parallel journeys.

LAHORE: The political crisis in Punjab has not ended yet as the chief minister Hamza Shehbaz and Speaker Pervaiz Elahi have continued parallel journeys through Aiwan-e-Iqbal and provincial assembly’s sessions respectively.

As the Punjab government led by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) failed to approve the budget, the PA’s alternative session will be held at Aiwan-e-Iqbal today in which the minister in charge of finance department Awais Ahmad Leghari will conclude the budget 2022-23 debate.

Yesterday’s session at Aiwan-e-Iqbal was adjourned due to a lack of quorum as it was attended by only 36 lawmakers and mostly PML-N legislators went absent. The session was not even attended by CM Hamza Shehbaz.

It is expected that the finance bill will also be passed today after the passage of the budgetary grants while the supplementary budget will be taken up on Thursday and passed on Friday.

On the other hand, in a parallel session at the Punjab Assembly, Speaker Pervaiz Elahi passed the Punjab Free and Compul­sory Education (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the absence of the chief minister, law minister and any member of the treasury.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) MPA Mian Shafi Muhammad had moved the private bill which was supported by members from both sides of the aisle and then referred to the standing committee on school education in December 2020. The panel had accorded its approval, yet the draft had been pending since then.

The bill’s movers back then included the PTI’s Mian Shafi, Sadia Sohail Rana, Sabrina Javed, Malik Wasiq Mazhar, Shahina Karim, Farah Agha and Shamim Aftab; PML-N’s Kanwal Pervaiz Chaudhry, Raheela Naeem, Uzma Qadri, Haseena Begum and Aswa Aftab; and PPP’s Shazia Abid. Of them, the PML-N and PPP lawmakers were missing on Tuesday.

During the latest session, Mian Shafi said Article 25A of the Constitution obliged the state to ensure free and compulsory education for children between the ages of five and 16 years. A law for the purpose was passed in October 2014 but had yet to be implemented. The amendment bill demanded the law be notified and rules framed for its implementation, he added.

It was learnt that the PA session convened by Speaker Pervaiz Elahi was attended by 80 to 85 lawmakers.

The opposition leader Sibtain Khan of the PTI chided the treasury for not presenting the provincial budget in the session being held at the assembly chambers even though the speaker had invited the minister in charge for the finance department, Sardar Awais Leghari.

He also requested the speaker to limit the proceedings of the ongoing 41st session of the house to a day, as due to their engagements in the assembly they were unable to campaign for the by-polls on 20 PA seats.

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