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Minister wants speedy trial, death for child abusers

Updated July 20, 2019

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Opposition complains about absence of ministers in PA.
Opposition complains about absence of ministers in PA.

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister for law and parliamentary affairs Sultan Mohammad Khan on Friday expressed concern about the growing incidence of child abuse in the province and called for the speedy trial of suspected child abusers and death penalty for those convicted for the heinous crime.

Replying to an identical point of order moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Sumaira Shams and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Nighat Yasmin Orakzai, the minister told the provincial assembly that there was a need for legislation to address the issue of child abuse.

He said the incidence of child abuse was on the rise in KP and other parts of the country, so the government should get tough on culprits.

Opposition complains about absence of ministers in PA

“My personal desire is the speedy trial of and death sentence for people involved in this inhuman act,” he said.

The minister said parents needed education and awareness to protect children from abuse.

The absence of cabinet members from the house marred parliamentary business.

Babar Saleem Swati from the panel of chairmen, who presided over the sitting, kept debate on the questions regarding the defunct Ehtesab Commission (KPEC) and health and local government departments pending due to the absence of the ministers concerned.

Nighat Orakzai, who moved four questions regarding the defunct Ehtesab Commission, didn’t get reply from the government.

The lawmakers sought details of the appointment of the acting director general to the KPEC in 2017, the current status of the DG, assets, expenditure, and number of cases disposed of by the commission.

The relevant department, however, expressed inability to produce the sought-after information.

The MPA complained that the department intentionally didn’t give answer to the questions. The chair asked the minister to ensure the questions are answered in the next sitting of the house.

The cabinet members, including Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, frequently absent themselves from the assembly’s sessions despite the speaker’s orders for them to show up.

When the sitting began on Friday, only two ministers and an adviser to the chief minister were present in the house to respond to the opposition’s questions.

Drawing the chair’s attention to the absence of ministers, Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani said on a lighter note: “It seems the government has been contracted to the law minister to give answer to the opposition on behalf of the entire cabinet.”

He, however, said the law minister didn’t have the capacity to do so.

The law minister said under sub-clause 6 of Article 130 of the Constitution, the cabinet would be collectively responsible to the provincial assembly.

He said the relevant ministers couldn’t show up due to official engagements.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPA Inayatullah Khan said the minister was misinterpreting Article 130 of the Constitution and the assembly’s rules of business.

He said Article 130 of the Constitution didn’t mean that only one minister would come to the assembly or he would be punished for the ‘corrupt practices’ of his colleagues.

The opposition lawmaker said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure the presence of ministers in the house.

Three proposed laws, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Control of Narcotic Substances Bill, 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees of Transport and Mass Transit Department (Regularisation of Services) Bill, 2019, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Excise Duty on Minerals (Labour Welfare) Bill, 2019, were introduced in the assembly.

The chair later adjourned the sitting until 10am on Monday.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019