The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Monday witnessed commotion over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s protest against the alleged by-poll rigging in PP-150, the police torture and the arrest of PTI workers, leaders and legislators at the hunger strike camp.
Amid hue and cry of treasury and opposition members, the media at the Press Gallery boycotted the assembly’s proceedings in protest of the PTI’s torture on media personnel. In spite of efforts and mediation by the PA’s Mediation Committee, journalists at Press Gallery refused to end the boycott of the PA’s proceedings and refused to cover the session until and unless legal action was taken against the culprits responsible for torturing media personnel at the hunger strike.
The situation compelled the PA’s Custodian to initially halt the proceedings for half-an-hour before adjourning the session till 10am on Tuesday.
The chaos started in the PA when opposition leader Mian Mahmood-ur-Rashid, on a point of order, requested the chair to allow him to present an adjournment motion over the important issues of police brutality and the arrest of PTI workers, leaders and legislators in the city. He also asked to table a privilege motion from his party legislature.
The speaker allowed him to present the adjournment motion but when demanded the Punjab government to apologise on the incident, the matter turned the PA into a fish market.
Dr Noshin Hamid’s privilege motion was referred to the privilege committee for necessary action but opposition leaders insisted to debate the adjournment motion and demanded the Punjab government to beg pardon over Saturday’s incident which resulted in the exchange of fiery words between the treasury and opposition benches.
Monday’s session started two hours later than its scheduled time at 3pm under the chairmanship of Speaker Rana Iqbal. Soon after the recitation of the verses from the Holy Quran and Naat, Provincial Power Minister Chaudhry Sher Ali Khan answered queries about his ministry to his colleagues during the question hour.
For the first time in the PA’s history, only three questions were put up in the Question Hour and due to absence of Population Welfare Minister Begum Zakia Shah Nawaz, two questions related to her ministry were adjourned till the next session.
Anyhow, while answering a question regarding the energy crisis, the Kala Bagh Dam (KBD) and the government’s power projects in Punjab put by forward by Opposition Member Dr Waseem Akhtar, the power minister said that that KBD project was still feasible for construction but it would only be completed after getting consensus from all four provinces.
He said that NEPRA was the only authority which could fix the rates of electricity including those in the national grid, but the government was also encouraging private industries producing power through sugarcane for their own requirements (but the extra electricity must be included in the national grid by the rules).
Sher informed the PA that his government succeeded in a survey to locate 41 sites for hydel power projects in Punjab. While the government was also working on some small dams for providing water to lands for agriculture, he added.
PTI legislators submitted an adjournment and a privilege motion in the PA. The motion was submitted by Mahmood Ur Rashid, Dr Murad Raas, Mian Aslam Iqbal and Sadia Suhail Rana . In the motion, the PA’s attention was sought on the August 24 incident in Lahore where a PTI hunger strike camp protesting against PP-150 by-poll rigging at a greenbelt attached to the Mall Road was raided and uprooted using police force. The motion said that the police not only destroyed the protest camp but also arrested around 60 PTI workers and leaders including Mahmood Ur Rashid, Noshin Hamid, Ijaz Ch and Andleeb Abbass.
The motion mentioned that the police brutally tortured the PTI workers at camp during the incident.
The movers of the motion said that the government had started using illegal tactics to snub the democratic protest of PTI workers and that the protesters had neither violated the law not nor blocked the traffic. The movers asked the Speaker to declare the motion as per assembly rules and allow a debate on it in the PA.
Likewise, in the privilege motion moved by PTI’s Noshin Hamid, the mover sought permission from the speaker to bring the August 24 incident of police torture on the peaceful PTI protesters in the PA. On the occasion, the mover said that the Lahore police resorted to baton charge on the peaceful leaders and protesters of the PTI who were only chanting slogans to highlight the issue.
Noshin said that she was part of that protest and that the police cop-dragged her to into a police van before taking her to the police station. She said that during the course of the torture and arrest, she repeatedly told the cops that she was a member of the PA but they did not pay heed to her and misbehaved with her. In the motion she said that the PA had been disrespected by the police by partaking in such an act.
Govt has nothing to do with torture on PTI workers:
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday denied that workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were beaten up by the police. He said that the government has nothing to do with the torture on PTI workers and leaders during August 24 incident.
Speaking to the journalists outside the Punjab Assembly, Sanaullah said that the provincial government has no jurisdiction to order re-counting of votes in PP-150. He said the government wanted to flourish democratic norms.
The minister said that neither PTI nor any other political party was being deprived of freedom of expression. He said PTI workers who were making hue and cry over poll rigging during the last general elections were exposed during by-elections as their candidates lost their seats in Peshawar and Mianwali.
He advised the PTI to approach the election tribunal instead of taking a more ‘agitated stance’. Terming Imran Khan‘s party as ‘rigging movement’, Sanaullah said that they must lodge a protest against Peshawar and Mianwali election results. He said that people had repeated May 11 verdict during by-elections on August 22. The PTI, he alleged, violated a court order by staging a protest on The Mall.