PA Opp slams CM for calling for army help in dengue fight

LAHORE: The opposition in Punjab Assembly (PA) session lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif for his statement in which he called upon the Pakistan Army to come and fight dengue, terming it as ‘non-serious attitude’ of authorities while the people were dying from dengue. Punjab Assembly’s 29th session began on Friday under the chair of Speaker Rana Iqbal Ahmad Khan, one-hour-and-35 minutes late from its schedule at 3pm. None of the members were present at the time of the session commencement, and the Speaker had to delay the session by announcing a prayer break.

The Speaker fixed a half-an-hour period for the session of point of order so that the session agenda could be completed within the scheduled time. During the session, members of the opposition, both from the PPP as well as PML-Q, protested against the CM’s statement and urged him to take the dengue issue seriously, taking effective steps to eradicate the disease.

Talking about the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) employees’ strike and subsequent refusal to carry out spray and fumigation against dengue, PML-Q’s Parliamentary Leader Ch Zaheeruddin said that the health department and the government were not taking the issue of public health care seriously, which was further proved by the absence of a health minister in the province. He demanded the provincial government to immediately appoint a health minister with full authority.

Azma Zahid Bukhari of PPP, while talking about the dengue issue, strongly criticised the CM’s statement and said that he should avoid the “non-serious attitude” and “jests” pertaining to an epidemic that had taken numerous lives of the citizens because of the negligence of the Punjab government. She said that though the CM was willing to call the Army and General Kiyani for help, she was sure that they would not support or help him in any case.

Hassan Murtaza of PPP also threw light on the same issue and said that the PML-N-led government in Punjab should avoid seeking army’s help in the operation against dengue since the army was already busy in fighting the war on terrorism. Suggesting the PML-N government to call an All Parties Conference (APC) to control the spread of dengue in the province, especially in Lahore, he said that “a mere dengue mosquito had had shaken the Takhat-e-Lahore which was now looking towards the army for help.”

Meanwhile, PPP Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Mehmood Basra criticised the absence of the CM from the House and demanded that he personally attend the assembly session and give answers to each issue, hence, taking the House into confidence. Speaker Rana Iqbal Ahmad Khan, meanwhile, said that the opposition should not take Shahbaz’s Sharif’s statement regarding General Kiyani seriously and should avoid commenting on it.

PPP’s legislator Dr Akhtar Malik, on the occasion, also raised the issue of the vacant post of vice chancellor in Bahaudin Zikrya University while Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah informed the House that his government had recommended a name for the post and had forwarded it to Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa. He added that however, Khosa was hesitating to take any step because of some issues with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. “The Supreme Court has also taken notice of the issue,” he added.

Earlier, during the question hour session, which lasted for an hour, Punjab Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman failed to give satisfactory answers to the queries of the legislators, accepting that he was not properly prepared for it. He remained tensed and confused throughout the session and left the House immediately after the questioning session.

The opposition members, especially PML-Q’s Dr Samia Amjad, while pointing out the wrong answers provided by the Higher Education Department to the House, also demanded the Speaker to take not only a direct action against the responsible officials of the department but to remove the said minister from the post as he had failed to manage his ministry in a proper way.

The House also took up the Privilege and Adjournment motions of different legislators. Although, an open debate on the law and order situation in the province was also included in the Friday session agenda but due to an absence of Opposition Leader Raja Riaz Ahmad Khan and PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Ch Zaheeruddin, the debate could postponed. The Speaker adjourned the session until 3pm on Monday. – Dailytimes