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LAHORE: The Treasury on Friday foiled the Opposition’s attempt to move a resolution on Kulbhushan Jhadav, accusing the government of haste and diplomatic embarrassment.

The opposition, on its part, also did not allow the treasury to bring a resolution praising the government by pointing out quorum. The day thus evened out in the end.

As soon as the question hour ended, Leader of Opposition Mian Mahmoodur Rashid appeared in the house and sought permission to move his resolution, which he had submitted a day earlier. The chair granted the permission.

The draft of his resolution accused the government of diplomatic embarrassment, which the ICJ’s staying of Kalbhushan Jhadav’s execution has caused. “The stay came after the federal government had erroneously, or conspiratorially, accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice on the issue. This house thus demands the federal government to be better prepared and forcefully take up the matter.” Law Minister Rana Sanaullah came up with an amendment to the resolution. His amendment was: “The decision of the ICJ is only of advisory nature but the Indian media and some vested interest in Pakistan were twisting its meaning for their own ulterior ends, which is condemnable.”

Sensing the trap, which the treasury had set for the opposition because the government resolution could have sailed through in the end because of numerical superiority, the opposition pointed out quorum, which was lacking since the proceedings had started, and successfully scuttled the move. The chair ordered ringing of bells for five minutes, then for 20 more minutes before adjourning the house till Monday afternoon.

Once the opposition pointed out the quorum, it was a foregone conclusion that the house, which never had more than two-thirds of the required number at any stage, would not survive.

Azma Zahid Bukhari of the PML-N stood up for her resolution when she wanted the house to condemn the incident of Khadijah Siddiqui, who was stabbed 23 times by the son of an influential lawyer. “No lawyer is ready to plead the case of the poor girl. No judge is ready to cancel the bail of the culprit. What kind of message this government wants to give to the world? Why Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is always quick to help such victims, is still silent? Why is the chief justice of the Lahore High Court not taking the notice?” A visibly moved Azma wanted to know.

The chair advised her to bring a formal resolution but she wondered why the situation needs such formalities. It is human tragedy, where victim is a girl. The accused has been set free on bail, threatening the girl and her family. In case of crime against women, the conviction rate is less than one per cent – only because those in power get stuck into formalities. “If this House cannot protect women, why sit here,” she thundered and left the house.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2017