PESHAWAR: An official bill landed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday seeking power for the chief minister to hire an aircraft or helicopter from the open market or requisition it from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) or federal government for official use bearing its charges.
The government already owns two helicopters, including the Soviet-designed Mi-17, with the chief minister and cabinet members using them for official purposes.
Recently, former prime minister Imran Khan attracted widespread criticism after using the provincial government’s helicopter during rallies against the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif administration. He was accompanied by CM Mahmood Khan.
The bill sought amendment to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1975, to allow the chief minister to hire an aircraft or helicopter.
Sumaira Shamus from the panel of chairmen presided over the sitting.
Giving rationale for the amendment, law minister Fazal Shakoor Khan, who introduced the bill, told that the government would hire helicopter or aircraft only if need arises.
He said that the KP government had two choppers and in case of both developing technical fault or emergency it would be left without any medium of quick transportation.
Section 7B (2) of the bill says: “The Chief Minister may hire an aircraft or helicopter from open market or requisition it from PAF or federal government for official use, at the cost of the government, in accordance with the rules made in this behalf by the PAF or federal government, as the case may be.”
Sub-section 3 of Section 7B further says that the Chief Minister may allow a minister or “public servant” to use an aircraft or helicopter of government for official use at the government expenses.
The original act apparently does not authorise the chief minister to hire an aircraft or helicopter from the open market, PAF or federal government for official use.
Its Section 9(5) reads, “A minister may if he considers necessary in the public interest, travel by a government plane or a plane of the Pakistan Air Force if available.”
The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Infrastructure Development Cess Bill, 2022, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Regularisation of Services of Employees of Settlement Operations and Revenue Academy Bill, 2022, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Emergency Rescue Services (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
The government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Transportation by Online Ride-Hailing Company Bill, 2022, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Resolution of Commercial Disputes Bill, 2022, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Establishment of Information Technology Board (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the house.
RESOLUTIONS: The assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the blasphemous statements by leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party regarding Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Higher education minister Kamran Khan Bangash tabled the resolution on behalf of the treasury and opposition benches.
“The honour of Holy Prophet (PBUH) is part of our faith and being a Muslim, we can’t even think of tolerating any blasphemy,” the resolution read, adding that the BJP leaders had committed blasphemy, which was highly condemnable.
It said the Foreign Office should summon the Indian high commissioner and lodge a strong protest with him over the blasphemous statements.
“The federal government should also boycott Indian products and sever diplomatic relations until New Delhi tender formal apology and take action against two leaders who had passed blasphemous remarks,” it said.
Another resolution moved by MPA Ghazan Jamal of the ruling PTI demanding restoration of 12 National Assembly seats for tribal districts.
The resolution was unanimously passed.
Through another resolution, the KP government was asked to provide temporary admission to the students in medical colleges of the province who became displaced from the Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion of that country.
The house also passed a resolution demanding of the provincial government to take notice of the religious activities of Ahamdi community in posh areas of Peshawar.
While responding to the resolution, minister Kamran Khan Bangash said he condemned those activities.
He told the house that the government wouldn’t show any leniency to those committing blasphemy.