PA enacts four bills: ‘Govt to take notice of closure of TV channel by cable operators’

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LAHORE: Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan on Wednesday informed the Punjab Assembly (PA) that the provincial government will take notice of closure of a private television channel by cable operators as they cannot do this without receiving orders from any lawful authority. The assembly also passed four bills during opposition’s pandemonium that erupted after the chair refused the opposition leader to out of turn present an adjournment motion. .

The assembly session began at 11:20am instead of scheduled 10am with Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani in the chair. Parliamentary Secretary for Health Khawaja Imran answered queries during the question hour.

Soon after the question hour, journalists held a token boycott of the assembly proceedings against the decision of PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority) to close a private television channel (Geo) on an alleged blasphemy issue. However, they resumed the coverage after about 10 minutes.

On a point of order, Law Minister Sanaullah categorically said that that was no decision of PEMRA to close the private channel but that there was just an opinion of five members of the authority as the authority had itself clarified.

The minister said that this was not a matter of jobs of journalists but an issue of democracy and freedom of press and that any restriction over freedom of press could not be accepted. He also condemned attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir and urged the Sindh government and federal law-enforcement agencies to arrest the accused.

He said that the cable operators, who have closed the said channel, have no right to do so without receiving orders from any lawful authority and that they even could not change the number of the channel on the cable on their own. He reaffirmed that his government would take notice of this act of cable operators.

Later, Opposition Leader Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed raised the issue of development projects and allocation of development funds to members belonging to the opposition. He asked the chair to out of turn take up his adjournment motion on the issue.

In what appeared to be a repetition of Tuesday’s proceedings, Deputy Speaker Gorchani told Rasheed that he had not received his adjournment motion on the matter as yet. He also ensured the opposition leader that he would inform him (opposition leader) whenever he received it.

The answer could not satisfy the opposition leader and members belonging to the opposition chanting protest slogans.

Members from the PTI, PPP, PML-Q and JI gathered in front of the speaker’s chair and tore up the copies of agenda and hurled the torn papers at the speaker chanting slogans such as ‘stop fake proceedings of the assembly’ and ‘fake mandate is not acceptable’.

In what appeared to be unique development, some of the opposition members also chanted some religious slogans like ‘Nara-e-Takbeer and ‘Nara-e-Resalat’ in the house.

Anyhow, the chair kept on conducting the proceedings without any hesitation or showing aggression towards the protesting opposition members who made every attempt to annoy him by flinging copies of torn agenda at him.

The rumpus that continued for over an hour provided an opportunity to the treasury to complete the business and enact all of the four bills on the agenda – The Punjab Public Private Partnership Bill, 2014, the Punjab Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill, 2014, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology Multan Bill, 2014, and Punjab Mental Health (Amendment) Bill, 2014 – without any amendment or argument from the opposition.

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