By: Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: The women senators on Thursday staged a walkout from the Upper House of parliament against non-conviction of a single accused in the 103 registered cases of rape in federal capital.
The women legislators termed this a shameful act on the part of the government. The combined opposition senators accompanied the female senators in their protest. In reply to a question by PPP’s Senator Sughra Imam about the number of rape cases registered in Islamabad during the last five years, the Ministry of Interior informed the Senate that a total of 103 such cases have been registered from January 2008 to November 2013. However, no culprit/accused has been convicted during the said period.
Balochistan’s Senator Kalsoom Parveen regretted that the government has failed to convict even a single accused in these cases. She announced that all female senators would walk out from the House in protest. The protesting members were accompanied by all the opposition senators. State Minister for Interior and Narcotics Balighur Rehman told the House that lack of convictions in rape cases is a matter of great concern for the government.
However, he noted that in some such cases either the parties concerned reach a compromise or there aren’t sufficient witnesses. He said that he has ordered improvement in prosecution. He informed the House that out of these 103 registered cases, 83 accused were challaned, while one remained untraced and 14 cases were cancelled. Giving further details, the minister said five cases are under investigation, 150 accused were arrested, of whom 30 were released and a total of 53 cases are pending before the courts of law.
The minister said conviction is the mandate of courts. He, however, agreed with his fellow senators that the rate of verdicts in these cases and conduct of the prosecution was unsatisfactory. “I agree that there is a need to further strengthen prosecution. But, even in the cases where prosecution has completed its task, the matter is pending with the courts.” “On our end, we shall try to improve the situation and strengthen prosecution,” he said and described non-implementation of Police Order 2002 in the federal capital as a reason behind less effective prosecution.
The Senate Thursday started a debate on foreign policy of the government with particular reference to the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to United States, the repercussions of the expected reduction of forces in Afghanistan by the US/ISAF in 2014, offer of talks to the Taliban, drone attacks and NATO supply. Opening the debate, PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani put forth 52 points regarding the foreign policy issues and sought reply from the government on his questions.
He regretted that during the last six months, the government has not presented the foreign policy issues in Senate. “No major policy statement was made by the government on many important issues,” Rabbani added. The points he put forth pertained to talks with Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), government parameters for the negotiations, government’s Afghan policy, gist of Hamid Karzai’s visit to Pakistan, prime minister’s recent visit to Kabul, US policy, US defence and state secretaries’ visits to Pakistan, NATO supply, drone attacks, government’s position on Iran gas pipeline project, Pakistani’s role in Doha talks, Line of Control violations, maintaining of LoC ceasefire, National Security Council, its composition and parliamentary oversight.