‘Keep mum’ order of the day for treasury in PA

* Opposition members call police force ‘rogue’, ‘political tool of state terrorism’

LAHORE: The Model Town incident continued to dominate Punjab Assembly budget session on Friday also and interestingly, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who is famous for his sharp and chirpy responses to banter remarks of opponents, kept mum when opposition members were lambasting the government over the Tuesday’s tragedy and he unusually avoided saying anything to protect himself and the police department.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to speak in favour of their cut motions on demands for grants for the police department in 2014-15 budget, opposition members chided the police for its role in Model Town mayhem, calling it a “rogue” police and a “political tool of state terrorism”.
Opposing the 16 percent increase in police budget, opposition members apprehended that the department would use sophisticated weapons purchased from the enhanced allocations against innocent people of Punjab like it did on Tuesday. 
They also hurled slogans against Gullu Butt, calling him “a symbol of hate”. Some of the opposition members also used strong words about Gullo Butt but the speaker immediately ordered expunction of these remarks from assembly proceedings.
Yet again, opposition members demanded resignation of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. They also demanded Shahbaz Sharif to come to the House to explain his government’s position on the Model Town incident.
Interestingly, when furious opposition members were slamming the government, some of female treasury members tried to defend the PML-N leadership, especially Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, but ministers and parliamentary secretaries stopped them. No treasury member responded to opposition’s any of remarks. It appeared in circumstances that ‘keep mum’ was order of the day for treasury. 
After speeches on cut motions were over, the speaker gave the floor to Law Minister Sanaullah to respond to the opposition but he remained glued to his seat and said that though he admired the views of the opposition, they did not say anything relevant to the budget. He also asked the chair to put the cut motions for voting. 
The House rejected all of cut motions tabled by the opposition to reduce police budget with a majority vote and granted approval to Rs 81 billion demands for grants for the department. Earlier, the session started two hours and 26 minutes late to its scheduled time of 9am because of late arrival of Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman. 
Opposition members, including Arif Abbasi, Faiza Malik, Ahmad Shah Khagga, Sadique Khan, Temoor Masood, Nabila Hakim Ali, Waqqas Hassan Moakal, and Sadia Sohail Rana participated in the debate. The session was adjourned until 3pm on Monday.
After the session, opposition members held a protest sit-in on stairs of the PA chamber. Carrying placards, the protesters chanted slogans against the PML-N top leadership and the police for their role in Model Town incident.

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