MPAs hail meeting between Nawaz, Imran on peace

* Assembly passes three bills; rejects amends suggested by opposition

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Thursday praised the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Shraif and PTI chief Imran Khan pertaining to the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.
Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani chaired the session on Thursday in which the PA passed three bills with a majority, including the ‘Lahore Garrison University Bill 2014’, ‘Punjab Employees’ Efficiency, Discipline & Accountability (Amendment)’ and the ‘Punjab Development of Cities (Amendment) Bill 2014’. 
The government rejected amendments suggested by the opposition.  
In the pretext of top PML-N and PTI leaderships, the House also resolved to improve working relation at the provincial level. 
The members endorsed a suggestion according to which Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif and Opposition Leader Mehmoodur Rasheed would meet soon to resolve the problems and reservation regarding distribution of development funds to opposition members. 
The two leaders would also discuss other related issues in the meeting, the House consented.  
However, on the occasion, treasury and opposition members had a dispute for a while in the House when PTI-backed opposition leader Rasheed, on a point of order, again accused the government of financial embezzlement during the Punjab Youth Festival (PYF). He claimed that developments funds of the province had been wasted in the festival. 
“The government has embezzled millions of rupees,” he alleged, demanding investigation into the matter.
He said that he would write a letter to the CM to highlight the matter, coupled with documented proves of embezzlement. 
Responding to the opposition leader’s allegations, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed that the Punjab government had set precedent of fairness, honesty and merit.
He also stated that the government would conduct an inquiry into the matter. “The opposition should also then accept the findings,” he said, adding that the opposition must end the tradition of levelling allegations, 
He praised Imran Khan for welcoming the premier wholeheartedly at his residence. He said the whole world had come to know that the political leadership resolved to overcome national challenges together. 
“Political parties must pursue their agenda over political issues,” the law minister said. 
He said the nation had commended the political leadership’s unity over national issues. He suggested that the opposition in Punjab must understand the turns in the political scene.
Opposition leader also commended the meeting between the PML-N and PTI top leaders, saying that it was a major step towards rescuing Pakistan from the prevailing unrest. 
“Pakistan has already lost much amid terrorism; therefore, the meeting has much significance,” he said.
Rasheed demanded that opposition should be given representation in the inquiry committee to probe financial corruption in the youth festival. He also demanded that the government should stop the trend of not giving representation to the opposition members in the district coordination committees.
Upon this, the law minister suggested that the opposition members should meet the CM to discuss the matter. He said that opposition members belonging to other parties met the CM earlier, while PTI members did not meet the CM owing to their party policy. As the top PML-N and PTI leadership had met, the PTI members should prefer meeting the CM to discus the matter of district coordination committees and their representation in them, he said.  
Adviser to the CM on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique informed the House that the government had not sacked any of the protesting nurses. He also stated that the nurses who were recruited on an ad hoc basis could not be regularised under the present law, but those working on contractual basis would be regularised.
He said the remaining nurses must appear in the PPSC examination. “They will be given 10 marks extra in the interview in account of their experience in the profession.”
He informed the House that a requisition to recruit 1,500 nurses has been forwarded to the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), while more recruitment requisites would be forwarded to the PPSC as well. He said that around 3,000 nurses would be recruited on a permanent basis in the coming days.
Minister for Irrigation Mian Yawar Zaman informed the House that the department had adopted a new method for registering FIRs against water thieves, in which cases would be registered against farmers whose lands were irrigated by stolen water.
Meanwhile, three new bills were introduced in the House – The Punjab Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Authority Bill 2014, The Punjab Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2014 and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology Multan Bill 2014 – which were referred to the respective standing committees by the speaker. 

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