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KARACHI: Corporal punishment or any other humiliating or degrading treatment to children by any person in all its forms has been prohibited in Sindh by a law passed by the provincial assembly on Tuesday.

Under the bill, which was tabled by Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, protection has been given to children against punishments to cause pain or discomfort by hitting, smacking, slapping, spanking, kicking, shaking or throwing child, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears or forcing child to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion by any person in the family and workplace, in schools and other educational institutions including formal, non-formal, religious, both public and private, child care institutions including foster care, rehabilitation centres and other alternative care settings and in the juvenile justice system.

The disciplinary measures concerning the child can only be taken in accordance with the child’s dignity and under no circumstances corporal punishments that relate to the child’s physical and mental development or that may affect the child’s emotional status are allowed. Whoever violates the provisions of the act shall be liable to punishments prescribed for the said offences in the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and other respective laws.

Tabling the bill, Ms Rashdi said that no civilised society could allow that children went to school and got punished physically by a teacher. At the time of tabling the bill, PPP lawmaker Sharmila Farooqi said she had submitted a similar bill in 2014 but she was not invited for consultation by the standing committee while considering this bill. Mr Khuhro being the minister for parliamentary affairs clarified that it had been submitted some days back and was laid in the house on Tuesday. He added her name was mentioned along with Ms Rashdi’s in the report.

The other business that dominated the proceedings on the private members’ day included demand for withdrawal of latest increase in prices of petroleum products, and the need to launch awareness drive against polio and dengue fever, initiate model projects of solar energy to avoid load-shedding and formulate policies on education for youth.

There were two bills, five resolutions, private motions and amendment in the rules of procedure of the assembly in addition to the Question Hour on food department. However, on a motion from Senior Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Khuhro, the house allowed under Rule 256 of the rules of business of the Sindh Assembly to withdraw the government bill (18 of 2016) pertaining to amendment to the Zakat and Ushr law that was referred to the standing committee concerned.

Earlier, the private bill titled “The Ittehad University Bill, 2017”, which was introduced by PPP lawmaker Ghazala Sial, was taken up for consideration along with minor amendments to a few clauses and was passed.

Mr Khuhro said the assembly gave approval to two private bills as the assembly was not a personal institution but a forum where government and private bills were discussed without any discrimination.

Taking up a resolution, which was tabled by Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmakers Kamran Akhtar, Dr Zafar Kamali, Rana Ansar and Deewan Chand Chawla, the assembly recommended the Sindh government to approach the federal government to withdraw the recent increase in prices of petroleum products. It was adopted by the house when put to vote by the chair.

In her resolution, MQM lawmaker Naila Munir called for initiating model projects of solar energy to end load-shedding in the province. MQM lawmaker Rana Ansar said the government had claimed that there would be no more power outages after 2017 but so far no major electricity project had been completed. Endorsing the resolution, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said work on a number of solar projects was under way. Former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said there was a major wind corridor from Jhampir to Jatti that could produce 50,000MW electricity. PPP lawmaker Kulsoom Chandio and PTI legislator Samar Ali Khan also supported the resolution presented by Ms Munir.

Speaking on a resolution regarding formulation of policies on education for youths, Ms Rashdi said the chief minister had announced ‘education emergency’ in Sindh but its official notification was yet to be issued. The former chief minister said the Sindh government had formulated a youth policy in 2012 and it was still being implemented. In this regard, he referred to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Youth Development, rural income support and poverty reduction programmes.

In her resolution, PTI lawmaker Dr Seema Zia called for making polio vaccination obligatory for school admissions. However, leader of the opposition Khwaja Izharul Hassan said polio vaccination card had been made mandatory for admissions by the compulsory education bill, which was passed in 2010. For this reason, he added, there was no need to bring another resolution on this.

Another resolution approved by the house was about creating awareness against dengue fever. It was tabled by MQM lawmaker Waqar Hussain Shah. Likewise, resolution of PML-N lawmaker Syed Ameer Haider Shirazi to approach Pakistan Cricket Board to select cricketers on merit from across the country, including Sindh, was endorsed by the lawmakers.

Earlier, the house was called to order at 10.30am by acting speaker Syeda Shehla Raza and after over four-hour-long deliberations called it a day at 2.45pm to reassemble on Wednesday at 10am.

Later, talking to the media, Khawaja Izharul Hassan said that the newly nominated governor did not represent urban Sindh nor had the MQM been consulted before his nomination. However, he added, it was the prerogative of the federal government to appoint anyone as the governor and that was why he had congratulated Mohammad Zubair on his nomination.

In reply to another question, he said the Sindh government had not provided security to the mayor, Dr Farooq Sattar and the party office in PIB Colony.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2017