PESHAWAR: Apparently shocked by the growing incidents of sexual abuse of minors in the province, members of the treasury and opposition benches in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday demanded speedy trial of and death penalty for child abusers.
Some opposition members proposed that Paragraph No 66 written by Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth in the special court verdict in the Musharraf high treason case be incorporated in the proposed law against abusers.
After a detailed discussion on a point of order by Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nighat Yasmin Orakzai, the house unanimously passed a motion to form a special committee to revisit the laws on child abuse.
The motion says: “A special committee on the instant issue as debated in the house may be constituted of such members as determined by the speaker. The terms of reference shall be framed in accordance with the debates on the issue.”
PA passes motion to form panel for revisiting laws on sexual assault against children
The lawmakers demanded of the government to amend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Commission Act, 2010, which suggested the maximum punishment of 14 years imprisonment for convicted abuser. The maximum punishment for people involved in seduction is seven years imprisonment.
Earlier, the assembly passed a joint resolution, which demanded of the provincial government to amend laws for giving severe punishment to child abusers.
Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf MPA Asia Khattak tabled the resolution.
A child’s abuse in Mansehra seminary last week sparked a heated debate in the house when MPA Nighat Orakzai took the floor on a point of order.
Women MPAs of the treasury and opposition benches stood on their seats and held placards to express anger at the Mansehra incident.
The placards read, ‘The government should take steps to bring an end to the menace of child abuse’ and ‘Hand down death sentence to child abusers!’
The assembly was informed that the prime accused in the assault case, Qari Shamsuddin, had been arrested, while the police had begun investigation.
Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani suspended the routine agenda and allowed members to debate the point of order.
“Child abuse is a stigma on the face of Pakistani society. Abusers should be punished in public,” he said. The speaker asked lawmakers to table a motion for the constitution of a special committee to revisit the province’s laws on child abuse.
Lamenting the government’s apathy to address the issue, Nighat Orakzai said she had been highlighting the issue in the assembly for six years but the government hadn’t responded to it.
She said she would not end her protest in the assembly unless the government formed a special committee to make changes to the law.
“This innocent child in Mansehra was abused 100 times,” she said, adding that the society should raise voice against the barbaric practice and protect children from abuse.
The member’s moving remarks forced the speaker and other male MPAs to rise from their seats to join her protest and observed a two-minute silence.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani asked galleries to rise from their seats to show solidarity with children sexually abused.
He ordered the Hazara region’s police to expedite inquiry into the molestation and killing of a three-year-old girl in Havelian tehsil of Abbottabad district and produce a report in the house within a month.
Inayatullah, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha and other members of the opposition benches said child abusers deserved public hanging, so Paragraph 66 of the Musharraf treason case verdict should be incorporated in the child protection law.
“Child abuse is a black spot on our society and my personal desire is to include Paragraph 66 in the law to drag the abuser and keep his body hanging for three days,” the lawmaker said.
He also suggested that the government take measures to block indecency in dramas and YouTube channels promoting pornography in society.
Responding to the point of order, minister for law and parliamentary affairs Sultan Mohammad Khan said he personally favoured death sentences for child abusers.
He said a cabinet subcommittee was already working on the issue.
The minister supported the formation of a special committee of the house to suggest amendments to the laws on child abuse.
ADJOURNMENT MOTION: Concluding the debate on an adjournment motion, finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan opposed investigation by any agency into the multibillion rupees Bus Rapid Transit Peshawar project at the current stage.
“The government welcomes inquiry by any agency only after completion of the project,” he said, adding that investigations into the bus project might cause further delay to the misery of residents.
The minister claimed that 80 percent work on BRT had been completed. He, however, opted not to give any specific date for the formal launch of the bus service.
The minister said changes to the design of mega projects were not uncommon.
He said the launch of metro service in Dubai was delayed for one year, so the opposition shouldn’t politicise development projects.
Mr Taimur said the Asian Development Bank was on board in procurement process and it guided the executing agency on the project.
He accused the previous federal government of not providing land along the railway track for BRT and thus, delaying the bus project.
The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Lissail-i-Wal Mahroom Foundation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Essential Personnel (Registration) (Amendment) Bill, 2019.