MNA and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Mohsin Dawar on Thursday said the trend of declaring everyone as a "traitor" should be stopped, terming it a "dangerous project" for the country.
He was speaking in the National Assembly a day after he was released from jail, where he was detained for a day. Dawar and 28 others were arrested from outside Islamabad's National Press Club on Tuesday where they had gathered to stage a protest against the arrest of PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen.
"Those who have launched the project of declaring everyone in the country as a traitor should be stopped. Otherwise, a time will come when the whole nation, except a few government officers, will be declared traitors," he said in his address to the lower house.
Editorial: Who is a traitor?
Dawar said Manzoor Pashteen was arrested on January 27, two days after Defence Minister Pervez Khattak offered to hold a dialogue with the group.
"Who is running the affairs of the country? We are being labelled as traitors," he said, noting that similar charges were levelled against people like Bacha Khan, Wali Khan, Asfandyar Wali Khan, GM Syed, Fatima Jinnah and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
"The charges against these people have never been proven in any court of law. The only person convicted under treason charges is [former military ruler retired] Gen Pervez Musharraf.
"When he (Musharraf) was convicted the spokesman for an institution questioned the conviction. This is a dangerous thing. Whosoever opposes the Constitution is a traitor."
Dawar said he was among the 29 people who were arrested from outside the press club while protesting against Pashteen arrest. "The policeman who dragged me and put me in the vehicle was raising slogans of 'Islam Zindabad' and 'Death to India'.
"What kind of mindset is being developed? Now we are being declared disbelievers as well. We were very good Muslims when we were being used in the Afghan jihad," he said.
The lawmaker noted that workers of the (now ruling) PTI had attacked Parliament House and the PTV offices and even Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi were facing terrorism charges.
"We have not damaged even a single plant during our movement," he said, referring to PTM demonstrations.
Responding to Dawar, Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed claimed that PTM leaders had in a recent speech abused and used "expletives" against the parliament and parliamentarians.
He demanded of the PTM leaders in the house to apologise for the alleged speech before the issues of tribal areas could be discussed.
He alleged that the PTM leaders had also opposed the fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which he said was crucial to stop the flow of terrorists from Afghanistan into the country.
"Pakistan became safe by the securing of its borders. But you say that the fence should be cut down," Saeed said, addressing the PTM lawmakers.
The minister questioned why Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who had taken to Twitter to express concern over Pashteen's arrest, and the Afghan parliament "start issuing statements in favour" of the PTM whenever an incident takes place in Pakistan.
Saeed alleged that Dawar had acknowledged Afghanistan's support for the PTM and questioned why "action is not being taken against him".
He said the PTI government had carried out several projects for the welfare and development of the tribal areas and called upon the PTM leaders to "play your part in this journey of progress".
Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri adjourned the NA session until 10:30am on Friday.
Child abusers should be 'stoned to death': PTI MNA
Earlier, during a discussion on child abuse cases in the country, PTI MNA Imran Khattak called for the public hanging of those involved in such incidents.
He also said the culprits involved in the recent killing of a seven-year-old girl in Nowshera should be "stoned to death".
"We talk about [establishing] the state of Madina. In Madina, such people were stoned to death," Khattak said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said Prime Minister Imran and the government wanted death penalty for rapists and child abusers.
He said the government had introduced the Zainab Alert Bill, which he said was passed with a delay by the National Assembly's human rights committee headed by PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
"Unfortunately the PPP is opposing the death penalty. It is Islamic as well as according to the people's sentiments," the minister said.
Khan said he had written a letter to the law minister suggesting public hangings in child abuse cases when the Farishta rape-murder case was reported in Islamabad.
"Public hangings of rapists is the only way to create deterrence," he added.
'Govt bulldozing parliament'
At the outset of today's session, opposition lawmakers protested against the government's move to convene the NA session before time "only to seek extension in ordinances".
PPP's Raja Pervez Ashraf said it had been decided that the session would commence from February 10.
"After seeing the agenda, we have realised why the session has been called early," he said, accusing the government of doing legislation through ordinances.
"This is an insult of the house. We come here for legislation and not for endorsing ordinances."
He said the government wanted to run the house through ordinances and was bulldozing the parliament.
"The government keeps on sleeping and wakes up on the 120th day to seek extension [in ordinances].
"On one hand, we are negotiating the NAB laws and on the other [the government] is bringing the NAB ordinance."
Parliamentary affairs minister Khan said the government had introduced ordinances because the legislative process took time. He added that the ordinances will be presented before the house in the form of laws and the opposition could give its viewpoint when the laws are referred to the relevant committees.
The opposition walked out from the assembly after pointing out a lack of quorum. However, the speaker ordered a headcount and declared the house in order.
Parliamentary secretary for planning Kanwal Shauzab moved a resolution seeking an extension of 120 days to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Ordinance, 2019. The resolution was passed by the lower house.
Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar moved a resolution seeking a 120-day extension in the period of Tax Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019. This resolution too was passed by the NA.