LAHORE: Opposition in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday took the government to task over killing of several people during a clash with the police in Model Town while Law Minister Rana Sanaullah adamantly announced that such police actions would continue in future as the government would not allow anyone to establish any “no-go area” anywhere in the province.
General discussion on 2014-15 budget was in progress on Tuesday when the news about brutal attack of police on the residence of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town reached there, prompting the opposition to burst into severe protest.
On a point of order, Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said that security situation of the entire province had become sensitive after eight innocent citizens were killed and over 60 others were injured as a result of straight fire from the police.
He said that riots have erupted across the province after the incident. He demanded the law minister to inform the House about facts of the incident.
The law minister was not present in the House at that time so the speaker, gauging the sensitivity of the issue, assured the House that he would call the law minister to attend the session and reply to concerns exhibited by members.
Meanwhile, Labour and Human Resource Minister Raja Ishfaq Sarwar stood on his seat and said that the government was not denying the facts and that it was not interested in resolving the issue either.
When the opposition heard these remarks that the government was not going to resolve the issue, they resorted to sloganeering against the government and police. However, the law minister joined the session at that point of time and informed the House that the police took action against PAT members in order to remove barriers installed or erected outside Dr Qadri’s residence.
He said that they had received intelligence reports that suspicious activities were going on there and that oath on the Holy Quran was being taken from workers according to a text statement that, he said, was against the state of Pakistan. He further said that the government would not allow anyone to establish any “no-go area” anywhere in the province and that the government would take action against any such moves across the province.
He gave assurance to the House that the government would hold a judicial inquiry into the incident and would also take serious action against the culprits. He said that the government had actual footage of the incident where armed people opened fire and took anti-state oath on the Holy Quran and that the government would present it to the nation very soon.
He alleged that Dr Qadri had no services for democracy in Pakistan but that the PAT chief was instrumental only in spreading anarchy; therefore, he could not be tolerated.
He made it clear that the government would launch action against the people, who would establish no-go areas anywhere in the province.
On another point of order, the opposition leader said that the PML-N leaders were themselves involved in derailing democracy in 1999 after which they ran away to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). He said that the Sharif brothers had not learnt any lesson from their exile and that they wanted establishing their kingship again and that they were also not on the same page with the army, which was conducting operation against terrorists in Waziristan Agency. He said that democracy had once again come under threat by this act of the government.
Members from all of the opposition parties, including the PTI, PPP, PML-Q and JI, collectively protested against the police operation and chanted full-pitched slogans against the government and the police.
Earlier, when the assembly met on Tuesday at 11:33am with Speaker Rana Iqbal in the chair, one of the treasury members on a point of order demanded offering prayer for army men martyred during operation against the Taliban. The speaker, however, promptly hushed the legislator and switched his microphone off.
MPAs Mian Aslam Iqbal, Dr Naushin Hamid, Shamila Aslam, Hina Pervez Butt, Bao Akhtar, Nighat Sheikh, Madiha Rana, Rana Arshad, Chaudhry Ashraf, Tariq Gill, Chaudhry Sarfraz Afzal, Syed Sabtain Raza, and Tahiya Noon took part in the general debate on budget.
The House will resume budget debate today (Wednesday).
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