Legislators reject Constitution (Amend) Bill, 2014

* Bill sought granting status of national language to regional languages

ISLAMABAD: Through direct voting, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights on Wednesday rejected ‘The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014’ to grant national language status for major regional languages.Ruling party MNA Marvi Memon moved the bill, in which she sought giving the status of national language to major regional languages. While highlighting the importance of the bill, she said that the main purpose was to show respect to all regional languages by declaring them national languages of Pakistan.Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights Special Secretary informed that the Bill would not serve any purpose when it is read in the light of article 28 of the constitution that clearly speaks about preservation of language, script or culture. He further informed the committee that the federal government has decided for the establishment of National Language Commission where all such matters will be the dealt with by the said commission. Rejecting the bill, Mohammad Moeen Wattoo said Urdu is sufficient as a national language because it is understandable not only in Pakistan but also abroad. Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani suggested not dividing the nation on linguistic basis. “It will be better that the mover herself withdrew the bill else the committee would reject it,” he said.PTI’s Eng Ali Mohammad Khan raised questions that the bill would help create national harmony, which was missing in the country. The country was passing a critical stage, involved in war on terror in one part and presenting such a Bill would not serve the country. Regardless of party politics we all should work for greater Pakistan, he said. He apprehended that passing such bill would strengthen separatist movements of greater Pakhtunistan, greater Balochistan and Sindhu Desh. He suggested that the bill either be withdrawn or the committee rejects it, as PPP MNA Muhammad Ayaz Soomro similarly suggested.The mover, MNA Marvi Memon told the committee that there are several countries that have more than one national language, like two in Afghanistan, three in Belgium, nine in China, twenty-two in India, thirteen in South Africa, four in Switzerland and so on. This only allots respect to a regional language. She said that her party advised her to defer the bill and not withdraw it.Chairman of the committee Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk said that we all work here for the country and not on a party basis. He asked for directing voting over this bill. Iqbal Qadri and Sardar Mohammad Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa supported the bill while the four members namely Moeen Wattoo, Eng Ali Mohammad Khan, Mohammad Ayaz Soomro and Moulana Muhammad Khan Sherani opposed the Bill.The committee also took up ‘The Child Protection System Bill 2014’, also moved by Marvi Memon. She explained that after the18 Amendment the provinces are responsible for legislation on child protection and welfare. However, Islamabad doesn’t have such laws and therefore according to Article 142 (d) parliament had exclusive power to legislate for Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). She further stated that this bill not only complies with the constitutional provisions but also fulfils the country’s obligations under different international conventions in general and the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in particular.Law, justice and human rights special secretary informed the committee that a comprehensive Bill with the same subject has been prepared by the federal government with aims to implement child protection laws throughout the country. 

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