PESHAWAR, July 14: The NWFP Assembly on Thursday passed the controversial Hasba bill with a majority vote amid mild protest by the opposition. The PML-N abstained from the afternoon proceedings of the assembly. Opposition MPAs, wearing black armbands inscribed with slogans against the bill, stayed in the house till its passage. Against all expectations Abdul Akbar Khan of the People’s Party Parliamentarians did not put up much resistance to the bill. In his speech he said the bill would remain invalid if it was not signed by the president under Article 151 (4) of the constitution.

Speaker Bakht Jehan Khan, who presided over the session, overruled the point of order raised by Akbar Khan and allowed the law minister to table his motion for the passage of the bill.

Pir Mohammad Khan, a dissident of the Jamaat-i-Islami, suggested an amendment to Article II of the bill, seeking the provincial assembly’s exemption from the authority of Mohtasib. The house approved the amendment with majority votes.

Soon after the passage of the bill, MMA MPAs raised slogans of Allah-o-Akbar and were joined by the alliance supporters present in the visitors’ gallery. MMA’s women members also exchanged greetings with the alliance members.

Earlier, winding up the debate on the bill, senior minister Sirajul Haq said the Hasba law would help eliminating anarchy and restoring order in the society. He said the MMA was committed to moulding society on the lines of Islamic laws. He said the government was ready to incorporate positive suggestions into the law despite its passage.

During the first half of the session, provincial ministers Shahraz Khan, Inayatullah Khan, Maulana Ismatullah and Maulana Amanullah Haqqani spoke in favour of the law. They said that it was a first step towards establishment of a society based on Islamic principles.

The ministers said the MMA had fulfilled its promise with the people of the NWFP. The formation of the Hasba institution was aimed at uprooting corruption from government departments and society.

Maulana Mohammad Idrees of the MMA in his speech said the constitution of the Hasba institution was recommended by the Council of Islamic Ideology.

Wajihuzzaman Khan of the PML said the military establishment and religious elements were hand in gloves on various issues and had waged a mock battle to hoodwink the masses. He said his party was part of the political drama being staged to deceive the people.

The PML MPA said the MMA claimed that the Hasba law would simplify the present expensive and complicated judicial system but many opposition MPAs had suffered at the hands of the MMA. He said the chief minister had accumulated all powers and was even appointing Class-V employees which spoke volumes about the vision he had for the province.

“I am a victim of their justice. They ignored me in the annual development programme. When I challenged their wrongdoings in the court, they started making delimitations in my constituency without inviting public complaints.

“If the MMA was sincere in enacting the Hasba law, it must quash the Roman laws introduced by the British rulers,” he added.

Bashir Bilour of the ANP said the MMA leaders at a press conference on Sept 22, 2002, in Islamabad had said that they would enforce Taliban’s political system in Pakistan if voted to power. He said the MMA was trying to impose a one-party system in the country.

The ANP member alleged that the MMA had deceived the masses in the name of Quran and Sunnat at the time of elections and their Hasba bill was another attempt to deceive public and win its support for the forthcoming local bodies’ elections.

Abdul Akbar Khan of the People’s Party Parliamentarians stated that the MMA was taking the people back to an era wherein the king and the pope were the main pillars of a political system. “This nexus had played havoc on the mediaeval society. The collusion between a Qazi and the king brought the downfall of various civilizations,” he added.

He demanded that the NWFP governor should not sign the bill unless it was again reviewed by the Council of Islamic Ideology under Article 229 of the constitution. He said this house had yet not fulfilled the requirement of the constitution. The MMA government had made the judiciary subservient to the Mohtasib, a nominee of the chief minister, he added.

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