National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri on Thursday directed the interior minister to take notice of the alleged arrest last month of four women from Balochistan's Awaran district and come to the session tomorrow to brief lawmakers on the issue.
The directives were issued after the opposition members led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, a government ally, staged a sit-in in front of the speaker's dais.
According to Mengal, "four women had been kidnapped on November 29 and taken away to a torture cell and tortured".
On Tuesday, the BNP-M had termed the reported arrest of the women a direct attack on the traditions of Baloch people. The party had demanded the formation of a high-level committee to investigate the incident.
During a press conference that day, BNP-M acting president Abdul Wali Kakar had stated that the four Baloch women were picked up from their homes without showing any warrants and put behind bars.
The BNP-M leader had said that a day after the four women were picked up from their home at night, they were presented before media personnel in the presence of Levies and police personnel. Some weapons were also shown to the media and it was claimed that they belonged to the arrested women.
While speaking on a point of order in the NA session today, Akhtar Mengal criticised the government for following the footsteps of the previous governments which had neglected the Balochistan province. He said no one could run Balochistan "on gunpoint".
He questioned whether it was "unseen forces" that were running the government or a civil government. "What message will the arrest of these women send to people?"
Mengal also remarked what kind of government "hides the faces of terrorists in court but allows the display of pictures of women with weapons placed in front of them".
"Neither did the previous government wish to take Balochistan forward with them, nor does this government," he said.
"A committee for Balochistan was formed in June but its members have still not been named," said Mengal. "When you want votes, then you want Akhtar Mengal and you want Shahzain Bugti," he said in further criticism of the government.
Earlier in the session, PML-N general secretary Ahsan Iqbal protested against the non-issuance of production orders for Rana Sanaullah and the failure in production of Saad Rafique despite issuance of orders. He said that the Punjab government was defying the speaker's orders by not producing Rafique in the house. "This is an insult to parliament. We are staging a walkout against this. We will come back only when the respect and honour of the chair of the speaker are restored."
The BNP-M chief, after a brief protest at the dais and threatening to quit the coalition with the government, joined the opposition in walking out. He declared that the party will not return until the "kidnapped" women are released.
Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP pointed out a lack of quorum, as there were only 75 members in the house against the required 86.
The deputy speaker then adjourned the sitting till Friday morning and asked the interior minister to appear in the assembly.