Senate passes resolution backing virus-hit China

February 11, 2020

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The Senate in its session on Monday unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for China in combating the novel coronavirus, as a bill regarding torture, custodial death and custodial sexual violence was presented, and the increasing number of polio cases discussed.  — APP/File
The Senate in its session on Monday unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for China in combating the novel coronavirus, as a bill regarding torture, custodial death and custodial sexual violence was presented, and the increasing number of polio cases discussed. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate in its session on Monday unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for China in combating the novel coronavirus, as a bill regarding torture, custodial death and custodial sexual violence was presented, and the increasing number of polio cases discussed.

The resolution, read out by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahid Hussain, stated that the upper house acclaims the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping who is leading a very successful operation to combat the virus.

“The Senate expresses its appreciation to the government of China for treating Pakistani citizens, especially students in Wuhan just like their own citizens, providing them with protection and comfort. The Senate extends full cooperation to [their] Chinese brethren in this difficult moment of the coronavirus crisis,” it states.

Pakistan’s Senate is the first parliament in the world to express such solidarity and support to China. The Senate resolution lauded the government and people of China for combating the epidemic with dedication, commitment and courage.

First parliament in world to express such support

The house also passed two resolutions one moved by Senator Rehman Malik, who demanded that the International Human Rights Commission should send a high-powered delegation to investigate human rights violations in India-held Kashmir, and the other by Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, who suggested the government to formulate a support structure for kidnapped and missing individuals.

Bill against custodial torture

Presenting a bill titled “the Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Sexual Violence (Prevention and Punishment) Act, 2019”, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Parliamentary Leader in the upper house Sherry Rehman said, “In the previous one or two years, we are witnessing increasing cases of police torturing those in their custody. Their treatment has been so barbaric that it has resulted in the death of many victims. Some names like Salahuddin Ayubi and Amir Masih’s stand out for the amount of media coverage they received but there are several others.”

Ms Rehman said, “Absurdly, reports even surfaced that Punjab police had been running torture cells privately. One victim, Amjad Ali, was brought in for interrogation and tortured in such a cell in Lahore which was located inside the building of the forest department. There are many such cases including those of women and children. Just last year, 52 people died in police custody due to the heinous torture inflicted on them.”

She added, “Therefore, with this bill, we have sought to define torture and acts that constitute torture including custodial death and custodial sexual violence. This bill brings the domestic laws of our state in conformity with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, [commonly known as the United Nations Convention Against Torture], which Pakistan is a signatory to and ratified back in 2010.”

Polio cases

PPP Senator Sassui Palijo raised the issue of the increasing number of polio cases in the country and suggested that the government should make efforts to eradicate the virus of the crippling disease.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati agreed that there was a need to take more steps to address the issue.

He praised the efforts of provinces for controlling the virus and said that the government was committed to eradicating the virus. He suggested that the media should run an awareness campaign regarding the issue.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2020