• Opposition wants timely action to avoid resurgence of terror incidents
• House condemns women’s killing in North Waziristan
• Fawad raises JUI-F MNA’s reported marriage to underage girl

ISLAMABAD: As the National Assembly on Friday condemned the killing of four women vocational trainers in North Waziristan on February 22, the opposition parties asked the government to take immediate notice of the regrouping of militants in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan.

Speaking on points of order, opposition members warned the government that if timely action was not taken, the operations conducted by the armed forces in recent years to purge all those areas of terrorism might become futile.

While expressing their concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the KP tribal districts, the opposition benches also asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to take the officials concerned to task over the renewed wave of terrorism incidents.

The house also discussed the issue of forced disappearances in Balochistan and other parts of the country.

In his speech on the floor of the house, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhry asked the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leadership to comment on the reported marriage of the party’s 64-year-old lawmaker with a teenage girl. Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Maleeka Bokhari endorsed his comments.

The issue of the killing of women trainers in North Waziristan was raised by JUI-F MNA from Bannu, Zahid Durrani, who regretted that neither the media nor the parliament had given attention to the gruesome incident. “The people of my constituency are asking: are we not Pakistanis? Had such an incident taken place in Punjab or Sindh or any other district, media would have given it coverage and the National Assembly would have held a debate on it,” he said.

The JUI-F lawmaker demanded compensation for the slain women under the Shuhada Package and asked: “For how long, will we continue picking up bodies?”

MNA from North Waziristan Mohsin Dawar said militants from Balochistan to North Waziristan were regrouping, which should ring an alarm for the security forces, who had conducted operations against militants in these areas.

“Terrorists are once again organising themselves in the tribal districts,” he said, adding that only a day before the killing of the women in a village near Mirali, 10 people, including government officials and a lawyer, had been kidnapped from the same locality.

He called for a thorough debate in parliament before the terrorists started striking all over the country once again.

Murtaza Javed Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz endorsed the opinion of his colleagues on the opposition benches and recalled that in the recent by-elections in the area, candidates could not even go there for canvassing.

Speaking on the killing of the women workers, Zille Huma of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said there was no justification for such a brutal act committed by insane people, whom she called “beasts”.

She said the deceased were educators and visiting the area to train local women.

Shahnaz Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal deplored the miseries faced by women in Pakistan in general and Balochistan and tribal districts in particular.

“What was the fault of these women? Kill all the women in the country to settle the matter once and for all. Is this Pakistan? Is this Sharia? Is this the state of Madina about which the prime minister used to talk,” she remarked.

Later, Speaker Asad Qaiser referred the matter to the NA committee on interior.

Underage marriage case

Speaking in the National Assembly, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry highlighted the news circulating in the social media about the wedding of a 13-year-old girl with a man four times her age. He said the ‘very disturbing’ news of the underage girl’s marriage had also been reported in the Indian media.

The bridegroom was reported to be JUI-F’s Maulana Salahuddin Ayubi, who had won the NA-263 Qilla Abdullah seat in the 2018 general elections on the ticket of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal. The reported marriage of the JUI-F MNA with the 13-year-old girl was a violation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the minister said.

Mr Chaudhry said the government was not investigating the matter but the JUI-F leadership “should only come and deny the incident before the house, because Pakistan’s parliament and we are being ridiculed throughout the world”.

Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Maleeka Bokhari endorsed his comments on “the illegal act and criminal offence by JUI-F MNA who had violated the Child Marriage Restraint Act by marrying a 13-year-old child”. “Deafening silence by so-called champs of democ[racy] who stand by JUI-F head Fazlur Rehman!,” she tweeted.

Earlier this month, a local organisation in Chitral had requested police to investigate the reported marriage of an underage girl with an MNA from Balochistan. According to media, Chitral SHO police Inspector Sajjad Ahmed said the girl was a student of a high school where her date of birth had been recorded as Oct 28, 2006, which showed that she had not attained the age of marriage.

PTI MNA Saifur Rehman from Karachi highlighted the issue of an alleged attack on Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh and asked the speaker to summon the inspector general of police and prison over the incident.

He accused the Sindh government of victimising PTI workers in the province.

Responding to his comments, Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said the PTI MNA should not raise a provincial subject in the National Assembly.

“PTI is making a hue and cry over the treatment of the opposition leader in a provincial assembly, but can anyone tell me where the opposition leader of the National Assembly is now? Where is the former opposition leader Khursheed Shah now?” Mr Ashraf asked.

Later, PPP MNA Agha Rafiullah pointed out lack of quorum after which Speaker Qaiser adjourned the proceedings till Monday afternoon.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2021

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