By ZULFIQAR AHMAD
ISLAMABAD: Senator Farhatullah Babar of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) on Thursday proposed that the report of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) on the Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (blood money) Law, prepared sometimes back, should be placed before the Senate for discussion to suggest ways to improve the law.
Taking part in the discussion in the Senate on the 2014 report of the NCSW that was placed in the House in March last year and opened for discussion, he proposed drawing up of NCSW strategic plan for 2017 to carry forward its statutory obligations for which it was created through an act of the Parliament.
The strategic plan should include drawing up of a broad-based charter of women rights, overseeing the implementation of Pakistan’s obligations under various international covenants relating to women rights, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDW) and the setting up of a revolving fund for meeting the financial needs of the commission.
Senator Babar said that there is a huge agenda awaiting to be implemented for protecting and empowering women and ending their exploitation, adding, “It is a continuous struggle and the more we get close to the goal post in relation to women rights, the farther the goal post recedes.”
The lawmakers severely criticised the government for not paying any heed to NCSW, saying the commission remained without any chairwoman before appointment of Professor Khawar Mumtaz, which shows how serious the government is about rights of women in the country.
Leader of the House in Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq said that his party government would extend all-out support to the commission, as role of women for uplift of any country has always been very critical.
“Fatima Jinnah, Nusrat Bhutto, Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, Benazir Bhutto and numerous other courageous women had rendered countless contribution and sacrifices for the uplift of the country, and this is because of these great women, the women folk could be seen playing their role quite effectively in all walks of life,” he added.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed who happened to be the student of Prof Khawar Mumtaz at Punjab University, said that under the dynamic leadership of woman like Khawar, the commission can do wonders for women empowerment.
Senator Mushahid, who is often seen quoting Chinese intellectuals these days while giving lectures or keynote speeches, said, “Women hold up half the sky,” a proclamation made by Mao Zedongk that means that men and women should work side by side.
Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah, who had served as speaker and chief minister of Sindh provincial assembly, also happened to be a colleague of Prof Khawar at Karachi University, was also all praise for her, saying she can do wonder if the government extended support to her organisation.
He also proposed that the commission should visit the backward areas like interior Sindh and other parts of country where women could not raise voice for their rights, adding there is a need to take tangible steps, otherwise the dream of Quaid-e-Azam to empower women would remain an uphill task.
“There is a need of coordination between provinces and the NCSW in order to make a vibrant institution. There are laws in the statute books but the quality of implementation is poor that needs to be looked into,” he added.
“Why there is no minister…should I lock the House,” remarked Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani after he didn’t find State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman to respond to a calling attention notice moved by Col Tahir Mashhadi (retd).
“The proceedings are suspended for ten minutes,” he said with directives to call the minister immediately. Meanwhile, Baleegh returned to the House, and said he had gone to his chamber to collect a file, and the chair appreciated him, saying he is always very regular, and there is no need to apologise.
Responding to the calling attention notice, in which the MQM questioned for renting out “Sarai Aam” located at G-7 to National Accountability Bureau (NAB), he said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) could not maintain the facility, and as it had been in a dilapidated condition since 2003, so it was rented out.
The MQM lawmaker said that the reason behind giving a facility, which was solely meant to facilitate the poor people who come to capital and could not afford to stay in hotels, to NAB is to oblige the anti-graft body as the civic body is facing scores of graft cases.
In another interesting development, the chairman Senate confiscated the cell phone of Senator Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) after it was found ringing during proceedings of the House despite repeated warning to the members to switch off their phones.
‘The Corporate Rehabilitation Bill, 2017’ was tabled in Senate on behalf of Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed. The bill was referred to concerned Senate committee for discussion.