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Fund-starved women MPAs dominate house proceedings

LAHORE: Women parliamentarians in the Punjab Assembly continued demanding development funds on Thursday.

Opening debate on the subject on a point of order, Pakistan People`s Party`s Azma Zahid Bukhari said that she had raised the issue with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who announced a three-member committee to discuss the issue.

She said as the provincial government had denied development funds to women MPAs for the last three years, the PML-N should also restrict its women MNAs from accepting development funds from the central government.

Ms Bukhari also lashed out at the treasury, saying that it should amend rules if it did not want to give development funds to women MPAs. She said women`s development was nowhere in PML-N`s agenda as its government had introduced no mega project for women in the last three years.Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the chief minister wanted to give funds to women MPAs but could not due to some “practical difficulties”. He said a committee consisting of women MPAs should be formed to resolve those “practical difficulties”.

He also said Senior Minister Raja Riaz had sought four days to resolve the issue.

Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood, who was chairing the session, said a committee, consisting of Rana Sanaullah, Raja Riaz, Ali Noor Niazi, Opposition Leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin and a women MPAs` representative, would discuss the issue and give its recommendations. He acknowledged that all members had equal rights.

Ms Bukhari rejected the suggestion, saying that no discussion would be held on breakfast table but on the floor of the house.

Seeing backlash against the government from the PPP member, PML-N`s Waris Kallu said the PML-N-PPP alliance was unnatural. If the PPP had become part of the treasury, they should behave like treasury members, he said.

PML-Q`s Amna Ulfat said the issue was not about funds but the government`s discriminatory attitude towards women MPAs. Dr Samia Amjad said each woman MPA was to get Rs8 million a year and they had a right to seek three years` development funds. She said there were 66 women MPAs in the Punjab Assembly and such a large number could not be ignored.

On another point of order, PML-Q MPA Khadija Umer said PML-N leaders and their supporters had created law and order situation in Gujrat on Tuesday when police raided a place to arrest Haji Nasir Mahmood on the directions of the Election Commission of Pakistan for his fake degree.

She said why PML-N activists stopped police from arresting Haji Nasir and why fake FIRs were being registered against PML-Q leaders and workers.

This provoked PML-N MPA Imran Zafar to respond to the charges. The MPA, who is kin to Haji Nasir, said that former Gujrat district nazim Chaudhry Shafaat Husain and former education minister Mian Imran Masood along with their accomplices had broke into the Gujrat Chamber of Commerce building and tried to kidnap and murder Haji Nasir. He said that the Chaudhry brothers would be responsible if he or his family members were harmed. He claimed that PML-N supporters rescued Haji Nasir from the custody of attackers.Another MPA Asghar Munda said the firing at the clash scene had also claimed the life of a labourer`s son, while five other passersby sustained bullet injuries.

Winding up the debate on the issue, Mr Zaheeruddin said a call attention notice on the issue had been submitted in the assembly and they were looking towards to the law ministry to decide it on merit.

He said it was a matter of grave concern that police was arranging Haji Nasir`s functions instead of arresting him despite the registration of a case against him on the directions of the Election Commission.

Source: Dawn