Opp urges PM to discuss ‘bigger’ issues during India visit

* Sanaullah says experienced PM will deal India ‘well’ again

LAHORE: Opposition in the Punjab Assembly (PA) has urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to highlight the issues of Kashmir and water dispute with his Indian counterpart during his visit, while Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that the prime minister had a great experience in dealing with India and that he would deal with the neighbouring country “well” during his current visit too.

The PA session started one and a half hour behind its scheduled time of 3pm with Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani in the chair.

During the question hour, Labour Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and parliamentary secretary Elyas Insari answered queries relating to labour, human resources and social welfare departments.

Replying to supplementary questions, Minister Sarwar announced an amnesty scheme for registration of workers and labourers of power looms and brick kilns across the province.

He said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had approved Rs 5.5 billion for the facilitation of kiln workers.

He said that under the amnesty scheme, all power looms and brick kilns would be registered through labour inspectors and for that purpose a notification had been issued on Monday morning. He said that under this amnesty scheme, previous record of wages of labourers would not be asked from owners of power looms and brick kilns.

The minister said that the government was planning to construct labour colonies in all districts of the province.

After the question hour, PTI-backed Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed stood on a point of order and said that there were some news that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had gone to India to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the Indian prime minister, would discuss the project of construction of ‘Ravi View Road’ besides discussing Bihar-Mati City project. He said that projects like Ravi View Road were smaller things; therefore, Nawaz Sharif must discuss bigger issues like Kashmir and water dispute with India. He showed his concern over failure of the government in including opposition members in district coordination committees for planning and implementing development projects.

He said that the speaker and the deputy speaker – being custodian of the house –  were also not taking their complaints seriously; therefore, they would hold boycott of the remaining proceedings of the session. Soon after that, opposition member Arif Abasi pointed out quorum and all the opposition benches left the house.

On a point of order, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that pointing out quorum despite boycotting the session was undemocratic attitude and was a part of the PTI’s policies to destabilise the country through negative politics inside as well outside the house.

He clarified that he had already tried to arrange a meeting between the opposition leader and the chief minister on the issue of district coordination committees but that he (Rasheed) refused.

The law minister said that Prime Minister Nawaz had a great experience in dealing with India as he had already served the nation twice and that he would deal with India “well” again.

In the absence of opposition, the PA passed the Khwaja Fareed University of Information and Technology Rahim Yar Khan Bill and adjourned the scheduled general debate on health. Later, the house was adjourned to meet at 10am today (Tuesday).

Before start of the Monday’s session, the Punjab Women Parliamentary Caucus held its meeting chaired by National Women Parliamentary Caucus Secretary General Shaista Pervez Malik. She appraised the efforts of Azma Bukhari, Kanwal Nauman, Hina Pervez Butt, Faiza Malik and Dr Nosheen Hamid for strengthening the caucus in the province. She also urged the Punjab chapter to complete its organisation at districts and tehsil levels.

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