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ISLAMABAD: The left-supported Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Monday joined hands with hardliner religious political parties to condemn a security operation after activists of outlawed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) took six security personnel hostage in Lahore a day ago.

The ongoing crackdown against banned TLP served as a reminder of how this country is fertile ground for lawmakers – both left and right wing – to exploit religion as not a single party in National Assembly mentioned killing/kidnapping of police officers and instigating the religious sentiments of people by a far-right religious political party for its own vested interest.

Throughout the session, all the political parties including members belonging to ruling PTI remained mum over TLP hooliganism its activists have so far kidnapped several police personnel and killed six policemen.

Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who portrays himself as defender of ‘Khatm-e-Nabuwat’, had to leave the House without taking the lawmakers, saying he was not feeling well, and Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri would give a statement.

“The prime minister would also give a policy statement on the issue, which would be telecasted live from the national television,” he added.

However, the opposition was not ready to listen anyone other than the prime minister or his interior minister to take the House into confidence. They said that the religious affairs minister is a gentleman, and he should not be made a ‘scapegoat’.

PPP’s Raja Pervez Ashraf, who is a former prime minister, strongly criticized the interior minister’s statement, adding that the prime minister should have given a policy statement in the parliament.

He said that there are intense rumours across the country with regard to the police action against TLP. He asked if there was any agreement between the government and TLP and who had authorized the former to strike such a deal.

“As a government, you have completely failed to discharge your responsibility. You don’t even know what are you going to do...don’t escape the responsibility. The prime minister should have been here in the House today,” he lamented.

He continued that the ruling government is doing a disservice to the country by spreading hatred all around, adding whatever is being done is nothing but playing with the fire, as it’s a very sensitive matter and the government cannot escape its responsibility.

“You’re pursuing wrong ideals and you’re going the wrong way,” warned the former premier.

JUI-F’s Abdul Shakoor strongly condemned the government’s action against TLP workers. He recalled the PTI staged a similar protest in 2014, but the then government did not resort to use of force.

In a statement, the religious affairs minister said that the recent events were regrettable, adding the government has been making all out efforts for the last four months to resolve the matter peacefully through dialogue.

While keeping the doors open for further talks, he added, the TLP was assured – as per the agreement – that the matter would be brought in parliament and NA Speaker would constitute a parliamentary committee comprising all political parties.

He said that it was agreed with the TLP that the draft of the demands would be presented before the committee where the Foreign Office and foreign policy experts would give their opinion on the line of action.

He said that the TLP was told that ‘we respect the views of the religious leaders, but it’s the job of the government and the parliament to frame the foreign policy’.

“We told them [TLP] to convince the committee and if the committee is convinced with their point of view and whatsoever draft the committee wants to frame, the government would be bound to implement it,” he added.

He pointed out that when the talks had reached this stage, a protest call for April 20 was given which brought a responsibility on the government to keep the roads and motorways open and make it sure that life of a common man is not disturbed due to the protests.

“It was the responsibility of the government and also a religious obligation,” he added.

When the state minister for parliamentary affairs Ali Muhammad Khan took the floor to wind up the issued raised by the members, the opposition created ruckus in the House, leaving the chair with no option but to adjourn the House till Thursday at 2pm.

Earlier, the parliamentary secretary for interior Shaukat Ali told the House that the land of Islamabad is the most precious land comprising a total of 250,000 acres of land which included 70000 acres of forest land, 70000 acres of land owned by private and cooperative housing societies, 70000 acres of land acquired by the CDA, while on the remaining 40000 acres of land, the ICP administration is undertaking the legal requirements with regard to ownership rights.

He said that interior ministry also intends to computerize all the land record of the ICT, adding that the process of land revenue and transfer of the lands etc would make further transparent, once the record is computerized.

He was responding to a calling attention notice moved by Sajida Begum and Noreen Farooq Khan regarding non availability of open, fair and transparent system of mutation [land/property] in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and federal areas.

The MNAs pointed out that people, having properties in the ICT are facing various problems with the regard to transferring the ownership rights, especially when the owner is deceased. They called for a proper legislation to address the problems. On this the Speaker referred the matter to the committee concerned for further deliberation.

The House also passed two bills – The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2020 and The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2020.

“The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2020” aims at socially and economically protecting the senior citizens of Islamabad.

It aims to establish a fund for these senior citizens as well as build and maintain old-age homes for the indigent senior citizens.

The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2020 proposes legal and institutional framework for the territorial jurisdiction of ICT to ensure that victims of domestic violence are provided legal protection and relief and the perpetrators of this offence are punished.

Besides, five bills were introduced in the House, which include The Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Holy Quran [Elimination of Printing and Recording Errors) (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The State Owned Enterprises (Governance and Operations) Bill, 2021 and The Jammu and Kashmir (Administration of Property) (amendment) Bill, 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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