ISLAMABAD: Voicing concern over circumstances surrounding the death of a vocal voice against the ruling elite, senators on Monday demanded an inquiry to determine the real cause of death of former senator Usman Khan Kakar.

As members paid tribute to Mr Kakar for his struggle for civil supremacy, constitutionalism and the rule of law, JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza pointed out that family members of Mr Kakar were demanding the post-mortem on Mr Kakar’s body.

He said there were doubts how he received a fatal injury, as he was alone at his home at the time of the incident.

He was of the view that a house committee should be formed for an independent inquiry into the matter.

Two human right bills moved by Shireen Mazari passed

Senator Bahramand Tangi of the PPP endorsed the proposal of inquiry and noted that if the family members of Mr Kakar were demanding an autopsy, their demand should be accepted by the government.

He expressed the hope that the Senate chairman, being the custodian of the house, would play his role to this effect.

Senator Ataur Rahman of the JUI-F underlined the need for an investigation to bring forth the truth. He said Mr Kakar used to challenge the establishment and had received threats several times. He said it appeared that some incident might have taken place. He said attempts had been made in the past as well to suppress voices of dissent in the country.

Senator Kauda Babar from Balochistan said he personally regarded the post-mortem as desecration of the body, but it should be done if Mr Kakar’s family members had doubts about his death. He also suggested that a medical report should be sought from the hospital concerned where he breathed his last.

Former inspector general of Punjab and PML-N Senator Rana Maqbool, while terming Mr Kakar an ambassador of truth, said the information earlier received about Mr Kakar suggested that he either had brain haemorrhage or blood clotting, but later it emerged that he had suffered an injury and this raises questions how he died. He called for an investigation to ascertain the facts.

Senator Umer Farooq of the ANP said that Mr Kakar never talked about break-up of the country. He called for a free and fair investigation into the matter.

Kamran Michael said the family’s grievances must be addressed and a committee should be formed to investigate the matter.

Senator Muhammad Akram of the National Party said the sudden death of Mr Kakar while he was alone was mysterious. He endorsed the demand for an inquiry into the matter. He recalled that in his last speech, Mr Kakar had said that those against whom he spoke would be responsible if anything wrong happened to him.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the PML-N paid tribute to Mr Kakar for being the voice of the voiceless and oppressed people of Pakistan. He also talked about the murky and mysterious circumstances leading to his death.

Professor Sajid Mir also said that a formal inquiry should ascertain why and how all this happened.

Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Senator Walid Iqbal said his committee was ready to investigate the matter.

The house adopted a unanimous resolution expressing profound grief and sorrow over Mr Kakar’s death.

As the house passed two human rights bills, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the house Senator Sherry Rehman criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for his remarks blaming sexual harassment on women’s outfit.

“Does the PM not know that by saying women should dress a certain way, he is giving oppressors and criminals against women a new narrative to justify their behaviour? There is no justification for a prime minister to talk this way.

“His comments are irresponsible and reflect poorly on Pakistan’s international image. If this is what the PM of our country is saying, how can we expect the women to feel safe and raise their voice against harassment they face in society?” Ms Rehman asked.

She also came hard on the prime minister for giving the certificate of martyrdom to a terrorist like Osama bin Laden.

“How can he be declared a martyr when he is responsible for deaths of thousands of people? Osama bin Laden is a terrorist and anyone saying otherwise is belittling the sacrifice Pakistan made in eliminating Al Qaeda from the region,” she remarked.

The house passed two human rights bills, moved by Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, with certain amendments proposed by PPP leader Mian Raza Rabbani.

The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021, envisages establishment of an effective system of protection, relief and rehabilitation of women, children and any vulnerable person against domestic violence. The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2021, provides for the well-being, comfort and dignity of senior citizens residing in Islamabad.

During the legislative process, JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman’s remarks against Dr Mazari led to a pandemonium in the house, with six to seven women senators from the treasury benches moving in anger towards the Maulana. They were, however, persuaded by some opposition members not to do so.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2021

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