‘Blasphemy’ at PA Minority member demands penal action against opposition

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) chamber was once again reverberated with a demand to take legal and parliamentary action against opposition members for committing blasphemy by tearing up the copies of agenda inscribed with names of God, prophet and other religious figures during a protest, throwing the torn papers on the floor of the house and stepping over the same. This time the demand came from a non-Muslim treasury member. However, some of his Muslim colleagues from the treasury benches tried to hush him.  
Tariq Gill, a member elected on a seat reserved for minorities from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) platform who is also known as an emotional and outspoken treasury legislator, gave the torn copies of the agenda to the law minister after waving the same to the chair to take action against the opposition members.
Though the opposition was chanting high-pitched slogans against the PML-N government and its leadership and nothing was audible at that point of time, Tariq Gill continued his speech on a point of order despite refusal from the speaker to give him floor or to pay any attention to his demand.
Gill said that names of God, prophets and other religious personalities belonging to any religion were highly respectable for every one – even for their religious opponents. He said that the opposition was continuously practising what he called “unholy act” by tearing up the agenda copies in which several holy names belonging to the religion of Islam were mentioned.
The opposition members were still stepping over torn pages of the agenda copies, which was more unpleasant thing from sensible legislators, especially when they have already been warned against committing this act, he added. 
Conspicuously, some of Gill’s Muslim colleagues during his outburst at the opposition tried to stop him for speaking on this issue any longer.
The PA session for Tuesday earmarked as Private Members Day started one hour and 20 minutes late than its scheduled time of 10am. Speaker Rana Iqbal resumed chairing the house while Parliamentary Secretary Mehvish Sultana answered queries about the Higher Education Department during the question hour.
On a point of order, Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had never wished to meet Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and that Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had given a wrong statement about their meeting for releasing development funds.
He said that development funds were a right of the opposition members being elected representatives. He also highlighted the issue of his privilege motion regarding their representation on the district coordination committees and release of development funds. 
When the speaker told the opposition leader to use appropriate platform in this regard, the opposition burst into a deafening uproar against the government. The chaotic atmosphere led some of the treasury members, especially some women members, to chant slogans against the PTI and its chairman.
The opposition did not participate in the house business while resolutions from some of the opposition members were also on the agenda of the day. 
When the opposition members refused to table their resolutions during their protest, the speaker disposed of the same. 
One of their resolutions was about lifting a ban on YouTube. The house, however, passed some resolutions tabled by the treasury members. 
The house adopted the resolution tabled out of turn by a treasury member, Kanwal Nauman, in which the government was demanded to enhance the salaries of employees of the Pakistan Television. 
Later, the speaker adjourned the session to meet today (Wednesday) at 10am.

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