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PESHAWAR: The treasury and opposition members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday condemned with one voice the display of ‘objectionable portraits’ and raising of ‘inappropriate slogans and demands’ by marchers marking the International Women’s Day in many cities of the country on March 8.

Through a unanimous resolution, the house suggested to the provincial government to ask the federal government to ‘expose the hidden forces behind this campaign and curb conspiracies’.

It said the federal government should prepare a future line of action so that no anti-Islam country could dare undermine Islamic ideology.

Joint resolution asks centre to expose ‘hidden forces’ behind campaign

“The hidden forces have expedited efforts to distort our family system and social values which they demonstrated in different cities on the occasion of International Women’s Day from the platform of civil society. These demands were un-Islamic and inappropriate,” said Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPA Rehana Ismail while reading out the joint resolution.

The Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf supported the resolution.

MMA MPA Inayatullah Khan raised the issue on a point of order.

The resolution mover said a very small section of society shouted ‘inappropriate’ slogans to challenge religious and social values of Muslims.

He said those elements were trying to abolish the institution of marriage.

The mover said Pakistan was an Islamic country, where no law could be made against the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

“These NGOs hijacked the whole society and attacked the religion and Constitution,” he said demanding a ban on such marches.

Opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani said there was no room for such slogans in Pakhtun culture and religion.

He said a group of women had planned to hold a cycle race in Peshawar but religious parties blocked it.

“Mr Speaker, the women marchers said that we (men) should look for our socks and heat up our meals by ourselves,” he said asking if they could do such chores at such an old age.

Mr Durrani said slogans like ‘mera jism, mera ikhtiar (my body, my will)’ could not be tolerated in Pakistani society.

He said the MMA had convened a meeting on the matter and that such marches would be confronted in future.

PPP parliamentary leader Sher Azam Wazir endorsed the MMA’s stand and demanded the arrest of the women, who had organised marches on March 8.

He said Pakhtuns were religious-minded people by nature and therefore, they won’t allow attack on faith.

Sardar Mohammad Yousaf of the PML-N, Qalandar Khan Lodhi and Fazal Elahi of the PTI and Khushdil Khan advocate of the ANP also supported the MMA’s move.

Khushdil Khan said: “We live in Pakhtun and Muslim society and give the due respect to women but nobody will be allowed to promote obscenity and vulgarity.”

Aisha Bano of the PTI said she condemned the ‘offensive’ slogans and placards raised in the women’s day marches but she won’t support a ban on the groups working for women’s rights.

She said a woman was burnt alive in Mardan but no member spoke on it in the house.

The lawmaker said the rights groups were making a struggle for women’s rights in the country and her party would continue support for such activists.

Meanwhile, a deadlock surfaced between the government and opposition over the formation of a parliamentary party to probe the affairs of the multibillion rupees Bus rapid Transit project.

Opposition leader Akram Durrani while speaking on a point of order alleged that the government had backed out from its commitment to constitute a joint parliamentary party to probe the project.

He said that BRT was a controversial project and Peshawar high Court had directed National Accountability Bureau to carry out investigations.

Mr Durrani said experts had also expressed reservations about the project.

He said the government was trying to hide facts by not allowing parliamentary party to probe the project.

Minister for local government Shahram Tarakai said the government was ready to brief parliamentary leaders or the house about the project but there was no need for the parliamentary party.

Information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai told reporters that the actual cost of the BRT tracks was Rs27 billion but the opposition and media were exaggerating its cost to create controversy.

He said the soft opening of the project would be held on March 23 as construction work had been completed.

The minister said the project’s total cost was Rs66.6 billion that included the construction of 68 kilometers feeder roads and three parking plazas, and procurement of 220 buses.

He said the cost of three parking plazas was Rs10.5 billion that would be completed by the end of June, while the cost of buses was Rs8 billion.

The house passed the Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Allied Sciences and Technology, Haripur Bill, 2019.

Two amendments moved by ANP MPA Salahuddin Mohmand were included in the bill, while amendments of Inayatullah Khan were rejected by voting.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Promotion, Protection and Enforcement of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Buildings (Management, Control and Allotment) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 were presented in the house.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2019