Speaker summons IG for an in-camera briefing on police role in PIC episode

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LAHORE: Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Thursday ordered summoning of the inspector general of police (IGP) to give an in-camera briefing to a special house committee on why police did not stop lawyers from marching towards the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and attacking it, leading to deaths of some patients.

He gave the direction after PML-N’s Safdar Shakir held police responsible for the lawyer’s attack the PIC and thrashing of Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan by them. He said the police did not stop the lawyers from marching towards the PIC and attacking it. They did not even negotiate with them for persuading them not to attack the cardiac hospital. It all happened because of the negligence of the police, he said.

Law Minister Raja Basharat said the incident was condemned by all and sundry. Even the senior lawyers expressed their displeasure over it in writing. He said the government had got a case registered and the identified lawyers responsible for the incident were arrested. He said the Lahore High Court took notice of the incident and therefore the issue was sub-juiced.

He said a committee comprising four doctors and as many lawyers had met two days ago and was also scheduled to meet again on Friday. He added that it looked like they were moving towards a rapprochement. The law minister said a committee constituted by the chief minister had submitted its recommendations, indicating an administrative failure in the matter and questioned why police did not intercept the lawyers. The committee report was not made public because of the fact that the issue was sub-juiced.

Nevertheless, he said, action would be taken against those responsible in the light of the committee’s report soon after the LHC gives a verdict on the issue. All administrative shortcomings indicated in the report would also be removed, he claimed. Mr. Basharat said the incident was publicized as a conflict between the lawyers and the doctor’s communities, but both sides showed sagacity in removing this “wrong impression”.

As many other members of the opposition wanted to take part in the debate, the speaker asked the law minister to summon the IGP to explain to the house why police did not stop the lawyers when they were advancing towards the PIC. The IGP should brief the house committee in camera because of the court proceedings, he said.

Earlier, Food Minister Samiullah expressed his ignorance about a move by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to make food authority a federal subject, requesting the chair to refer the matter to the committee concerned for action.

The issue was agitated by PML-N’s Mian Naseer who said the multinational companies being strictly checked by the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) for their “substandard” food items had forced the CCI to go for making it a federal subject. If allowed, it would result in the supply of sub-standard food items in Punjab, he said. Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari asked the mover to present the issue in the shape of motion, promising to refer it to the committee concerned on Friday.

Replying to the points raised by the PML-N women members, Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid said efforts were being made to increase the stipend of polio workers which was meager. She said the anti-rabies vaccines were available at all district headquarters hospitals and could even be delivered to homes of the victims of dog bite through the helpline 0800-99000.

Minister Samiullah Khan assured the members that the government would not allow sugar millers to blackmail sugarcane growers after a PTI member indicated that the millers were going to prematurely end the current crushing season.

PML-N’s Gulnar Shehzadi broke into tears while mentioning that the poor and the deserving people were not being helped by the Baitul Maal. Minister Shaukat Laleka contradicted it and offered some forms to the MPA for the deserving people. She nevertheless returned them to the deputy speaker. Replying to queries by the members during the question hour, Livestock Minister Hasnain Bahadur Dareshak agreed to a direction by the speaker to order revival of the Breed Improvement Project.

The minister expressed his inability to inform the house about the exact quantity of milk produced in Lahore, saying the issue was not related to his department. He said Board Farm Sahiwal could not be modernized and this could be done only after the reconstitution of the livestock and dairy development board.

BUILDING: Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi has directed the departments to complete the new building of the assembly before the deadline. He issued the direction at a meeting on Thursday.

He said that the construction had already been delayed as it had been initiated in 2005 and further delay would mean adding more cost to the project which is unacceptable. The speaker sought fortnightly progress report on the construction and also directed the early construction of mosque and MPAs hostel.

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