LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday, in a short session, which lasted less than two hours, including the zero-hour (extended time), unanimously passed a resolution calling for steps to block blasphemous material on the social media.

Moved by Khadija Umer, Vickas Hassan Mokal and Amer Sultan Cheema of the PML-Q, it sailed through the house, with everyone eager to contribute to it.

Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah even offered a committee of the MPs, IT experts and religious scholars to continuously monitor online material for its content and intent.

Completes agenda with ‘rare’ smooth proceedings

“The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) has a designated clause (295-C) for punishing the blasphemy. But, of late, some unscrupulous elements have been uploading material insulting holy personalities of Islam. These acts fan religious and sectarian sentiments and lead to violence. Unfortunately, the law-enforcement agencies have not been able to track this material and punish the guilty.

“This august house demands that the federal government devise a strict monitoring system, block all such pages and punish the guilty under 295-C,” the resolution reads.

Since the opposition and the treasury had ended their ‘acrimonious’ relationship on Monday and the opposition returned to the house after a week-long boycott, proceedings were too smooth to be believed. Despite being consistently under-quorum, no one pointed out the numerical weakness of the house and the opposition was allowed extra time after finishing the agenda for the day.

The day’s agenda included question hour on labour and human development and information and culture, which went smoothly. Two amendments to the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) and the Punjab Child Marriage Restraints Bill) were moved and two more resolutions by the private members were passed.

Wasim Akhtar of the Jamaat-i-Islami moved a resolution for an industrial zone in Bahawalpur to deal with unemployment in south Punjab and Malik Mukhtar Ahmad wanted the government to build a long overdue bridge on River Jehlum – connecting Jehlum and Sargodha districts– so that the distance between both cities could be reduced by almost 100km. Both went through the house. Two others, moved by Khola Amjad and Najma Afzal, regarding improving classrooms and laboratories in schools and including women protection law in curriculum, were rejected because the treasury maintained that the government was already working on these subjects and the resolution were not needed.

As soon as resolution on blasphemous material was passed, the house adjourned for Wednesday morning.

Later, talking to media outside the assembly along with other resolution movers, Sardar Vickas Hassan Mokal said those committing blasphemy to Prophet Muhammad (PBHU) and other sacred personalities have no place in Pakistan and they must be taken to task.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017