By: Tanveer Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Friday unanimously passed a resolution to condemn the sexual abuse of children, violence against women and girls, and called upon the federal and provincial governments to make the required procedural changes for provision of justice in these “heinous” offences.
The resolution, moved by Information Technology Minister Anusha Rahman, urged the government to provide protection and care, and maintain strict privacy of both children and families in these cases. Noting an escalation in the incidents of abuse and violence against women and girls across the country, the Lower House of parliament asked the federal and provincial governments to immediately take steps, including legislation, to protect women and children.
The resolution also noted gaps in investigation, and weaknesses in prosecution and called for redressing them to provide justice to the victims. Meanwhile, during the question-hour session, the government told the House through a written reply that a total of 1,263 women and 1,261 juvenile prisoners are incarcerated in various prisons of the country. A total of 872 women have been imprisoned in Punjab jails, 28 in Balochistan jails, 164 in Sindh jails and 199 are in various jails of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Out of the 1,261 juvenile prisoners, 761 are being held in Punjab jails, 279 in Sindh, 54 in Balochistan and 167 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The House also passed a resolution to establish Parliamentary Friendship Group with 88 countries to promote friendly relations between the parliamentarians of Pakistan and elected representatives of the fraternity of the democratic governments. It also authorised the Speaker to constitute such groups with the countries as and when required. The National Assembly witnessed exchange of harsh words between Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Barjis Tahir and members of opposition PPP when the former, in the wind-up speech on presidential address, criticised former president Asif Ali Zardari for conducting political activities in the Presidency during his tenure.
The members of the PPP protested strongly over the minister’s words against Zardari, particularly his comparison with former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, over politics in the Presidency. Interestingly, the treasury side passed a motion to express its gratitude to Zardari for addressing both the houses of parliament. However, Barjis Tahir took a totally different stance and lambasted the former president for his failure to nab the killers of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
PPP’s Dr Nafisa Shah deplored the words of the minister and said that president Zardari played a historic role for smooth transition of power and noted that criticism of the minister is an attack against the reconciliation policy of the PPP. Meanwhile, Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch briefed the House about relief activities in the earthquake-hit areas of Balochistan and said that around 400 persons were killed in the calamity and ten thousands houses were destroyed.
About the hurdles being created by the insurgents, he said that they have been asked not to create difficulties in the relief operation and said that a positive message has been sent from the relief operation of army in the calamity-hit area. The government also introduced The National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (Amendment) Bill 2013 before the speaker prorogued the session of the National Assembly.