PESHAWAR, Aug 31: A bill to declare domestic violence a penal offence was tabled in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday amid opposition by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), which declared it to be in a violation of social values.

The bill tabled by Pakistan People’s Party MPA Noor Sehar was referred to the select committee of the House for deliberation.

Speaker Kiramatullah Khan Chagharmatti, who was presiding over proceedings, said all parliamentary leaders would attend the select committee meetings.

The proposed law, Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2012, will make provisions for protection against domestic violence.

The bill says it is expedient to institutionalise measures, which prevent and protect women and children from domestic violence and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Cleric-turned-lawmaker of MMA from Mansehra Mufti Kifayatullah immediately opposed the move when the chair allowed the mover to introduce the bill.

“This is a very sensitive issue. The bill reflects western values,” he said.

He said a bill about domestic violence was introduced in the National Assembly which created controversy across the country.

He added that after controversy, the bill was referred to the joint setting of parliament.

“Now, the same document is tabled in the provincial assembly,” he said, adding that the bill would create social complications in the society.

Opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani supported his colleague, saying it was not an ordinary bill and people would sharply react if it was passed in present shape. He suggested that the document be referred to a joint committee of the house for discussion before tabling in the assembly.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentary leader Pir Sabir Shah neither supported nor opposed the bill. “We should not blindly follow the West because its cultural values are not acceptable to our people,” he said.

He, however, insisted that every MPA had right to table bill on a private member’s day.

MPA Israrullah Khan Gandapur said technically speaking, the bill could not be tabled in the assembly because an identical bill had already been introduced in parliament.

Senior minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, law minister Arshad Abdullah, information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and PPP parliamentary leader Abdul Akbar Khan supported the mover and asked the chair to allow the member to introduce the bill.

Mian Iftikhar said women could not be deprived of their fundament rights in the name of Islam. He said many values of Pashto code of life were in conflict with Islamic injunctions and legislators should raise voice against it. He said Islam gave right to every mature female to marry with her own sweet will, but in our society, people opposed it.

On a calling attention notice, MPA Javed Abbasi said certain messages were being spread through SMS in Gilgit-Baltistan, which said the people of Mansehra were involved in the killing of 19 bus passengers in Babusar Top, while other messages circulated in Mansehra said the people of Hazara division were being targeted in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“The situation will worsen if the government doesn’t take steps to prevent such propaganda,” he said.

He proposed that the provincial government send a high-level delegation to Gilgit Baltistan to dispel wrong impression about the incident. He said outsiders were involved in the bloody incident and people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had no role in it.

Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain informed the house that provincial government had registered an FIR in the incident and few culprits had been identified.

RESOLUTION: The assembly through a unanimous resolution asked the federal government to hand over electricity production and distribution system to the provinces and take serious steps to end energy crises in the country.

Treasury and opposition benches jointly moved the resolution, which said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was generating electricity more than its consumption and therefore, it was unfair to continue loadshedding in the province.

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