ISLAMABAD: Both houses of parliament vehemently condemned on Monday “horrendous incidents” of serial child abuse in the Kasur district of Punjab, with the National Assembly vowing to enact an additional legislation to protect child rights.
In unanimously passed resolutions, both the National Assembly and the Senate demanded immediate arrest of all culprits and their accomplices and an exemplary punishment for them.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq allowed a lengthy debate in the lower house only on points of order after an opposition uproar over his refusal to allow an adjournment motion proposed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and a call-attention notice from the Pakistan People’s Party that also sparked token walkouts by all opposition parties.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had earlier told the house that the government had no objection to a debate on the Kasur affair, but the speaker said he would allow the discussion only on points of order but not through an adjournment motion or a call-attention notice on what he called a provincial subject.
After speeches from both sides of aisle, the resolution passed by the National Assembly said it was “greatly distressed and concerned” to notice the reports of sexual abuse of numerous children” in Hussain Khanwala village of district Kasur and expressed its “deepest sympathies with victims and their families”.
“This house calls upon the provincial government to ensure that all the culprits and their accomplices are apprehended immediately and investigated completely on a priority basis so that the guilty persons can be awarded exemplary punishment of their crimes,” said the resolution moved by Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada and signed by the leaders of all parties in the house.
Reiterating what it called its commitment to support enforcement of laws relating to protection of rights of the child, it said the house “resolves to enact appropriate additional legislation in this regard at the earliest”.
PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had earlier demanded, without success, that the speaker entertain his party’s adjournment motion on Kasur incidents, said he did not want to make it an issue of political divide but alleged that the people of Kasur were not satisfied with a judicial inquiry ordered by the Punjab government because of the fate of an earlier inquiry into last year’s deadly police shootout at the headquarters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek.
PPP’s Nafeesa Shah disagreed with the speaker that the issue was a provincial subject, calling it a question of child rights, which, she said, were part of fundamental rights. She regretted that local authorities had initially denied the incidents and then tried to belittle their significance.
In the Senate, following the passage of the resolution, moved by MQM’s Nasreen Jalil, Chairman Raza Rabbani referred the issue to the house committee on human rights.
He asked the committee to formulate recommendations for setting up a special commission to protect the rights of the child and to deal with all issues such as child labour, child pornography and child abuse as, he noted, Pakistan had already signed an international charter for the protection of child rights.
He said the committee could also propose amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code regarding offences against children.
Ilyas Bilour of the Awami National Party proposed that the case should be sent to a military court for a speedy trial.
PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said the committee should also investigate the matter to see as to who had been protecting the culprits since the crime had reportedly been continuing for the last seven years.
The Senate also unanimously passed a resolution condemning what it called brutal action by the Capital Development Authority and the Islamabad administration for the removal of “kaachi abadis”.
The house asked the government to make an appropriate strategy to evacuate slum-dwellers and to facilitate them in their rehabilitation compatible with the international human rights laws.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2015