Opp stages walkout in PA over worst power outages so far

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Energy Crisis on Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LAHORE: Opposition on Monday walked out of the Punjab Assembly to protest against “worst loadshedding in the country’s history” and demanded registration of cases against those responsible for the deaths caused by ongoing heatwave in Sindh, especially Karachi.

The opposition also wanted to table a resolution in this regard but Speaker Rana Iqbal did not allow it.

At this, the Opposition members led by their leader Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Mahmoodur Rashid boycotted the session and staged a demonstration outside the assembly.

“It is the worst loadshedding of electricity in the history of the country. People are dying but the PML-N government is still making false promises,” Mr Rashid told reporters.

The protesting members held placards and hand fans to remind Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of his own protest tactics in the past. Shahbaz Sharif and his cabinet members used to hold hand fans in their Minar-i-Pakistan protest camp against loadshedding during the last PPP government in the centre.

The opposition members chanted slogans against the government for making the lives of masses miserable. “The PML-N had come to power on one slogan that it would end loadshedding. Shahbaz Sharif had promised to end the power loadshedding in six months (after coming to power). Where is he now? He should tell the people as to why the PML-N failed to honour its commitment. All claims made in this regard turned out to be false and the people are suffering,” the opposition leader said, adding the Punjab government had spent Rs52 billion on Nandipur project but failed to add even one megawatt to the national grid.

Mr Rashid said the FIRs should be registered against the rulers who were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in Sindh heatwave. He also urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the deaths.

The House approved the demands for grant of Rs56.3billion for education sector after rejecting the opposition’s cut motion.

The opposition members highlighted the government’s “corruption” in different education sector projects.

PTI’s Mian Aslam Iqbal said: “Mega corruption has been committed in the Daanish Schools project,” he said, referring to Auditor General of Pakistan’s report, that Rs343 million had been given to a contractor of a Daanish School in Rahim Yar Khan in violation of rules. Similarly, he said, Rs805 million had been spent on the construction of a Dannish School without the PWD nod. “Why the chief minister did not follow rules here?” he asked.

Mian Aslam also dared the provincial finance minister to tell the ‘truth’ to the House about the funds spent on special education. “It was told that Rs62 million had been spent in 2014-15 on special education but the budget document says not a single rupee was spent on it,” he said.

Alleging corruption in Laptop Scheme, the PTI legislator said Rs5.5 billion had been allocated for it for 2015-16, that showed the government wanted to make some bucks from the project. “This amount could have been used for energy sector,” he said.

He also drew the Chair’s attention towards the missing facilities in thousands of Punjab schools, alleging that besides Metro Bus the government also wanted to make easy bucks through construction and renovation of schools.

PTI’s Shanila Ruth demanded the government should purge school syllabus of hate material. She also demanded closure of laptop scheme, saying its money should be used for bringing more children to school.

PPP’s Faiza Malik asked the government to assign school monitoring task to all the treasury members in their constituencies to improve the situation.

PML-Q’s Waqas Hasan Mokal, Sardar Shahbuddin, Saddique Khan, Sadia Sohai, Salim Akhtar and Qazi Ahmed Saeed also pinpointed the government’s “misplaced” priorities in the education sector.

Education Minister Rana Mashhood defended the programmes and lauded the chief minister’s effort in this regard.

The opposition also tabled a cut motion on the demand for grants for the police department.

PPP’s Qazi Ahmed Saeed opposed allocation of over Rs87 billion for the police department. He said the police had become “trained in killing people” citing death of 14 workers of Pakistan Awami Tahreek in Model Town, two lawyers in Daska and two brothers in Rawalpindi. He said Punjan had become a police state.

Mian Aslam Iqbal said Shahbaz Sharif had failed to change police station’s culture despite tall claims during the last seven years. Saddique Khan, Sadia Sohail and Shanila Ruth of PTI also opposed the budget allocation for police.

As the MPAs, especially from treasury benches, were busy using their mobile phones the Speaker warned them that their cellphones would be confiscated. The Speaker adjourned the proceedings till Tuesday morning.

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Written by Zulqernain Tahir

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