ISLAMABAD: At a time when the country is facing serious challenges — rise in terror attacks and a worsening economic crisis — lawmakers on Friday once again deliberated upon Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s ‘controversial’ remarks about women.

During an hour-long sitting, the National Assembly members also raised the issue of an alleged ‘anti-Islam campaign’ by a minority group and the publication of a book containing ‘objectionable material’ contrary to Islamic teachings.

The house witnessed lacklustre proceedings as members spoke on points of order without giving any importance to the 23-point agenda issued for the day.

At the outset, Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani, who belongs to the JUI-F, gave the floor to his party’s Shahida Akhtar Ali, providing her with a full opportunity to defend the party chief who has been under fire over his controversial remarks about women during the public meetings.

JI lawmaker seeks ban on grade 11 book

Ms Ali alleged the PTI has launched a social media campaign against Mr Rehman by uploading ‘doctored’ videos of his speech.

She said her party’s chief has “great respect for women” and accused PTI’s social media activists of “twisting” his statement.

“We condemn those women who are accusing the Maulana of using objectionable language,” she said in an apparent reference to Ms Bano’s speech a day ago.

“It is said that we use religion. Obviously, we do it as we are a religious party, but people are wary of the way you [Imran Khan] are giving religious touch to your politics,” she added.

This was the second day in a row when the JUI-F chief’s remarks dominated the debate and hampered the routing proceedings.

Thursday’s session was also adjourned abruptly after an opposition member from the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) pointed out the lack of quorum after being denied a chance to speak.

A day ago, rumpus broke into the house when GDA’s Saira Bano drew attention to viral video clips of the JUI-F chief uttering ‘derogatory remarks’ about women and targeting the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

During Friday’s session, a PTI dissident, Nuzhat Pathan, also lashed out at former prime minister Imran Khan for targeting her and two other women members when they did not support him during the vote on the no-confidence in April.

Taking the floor, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-i-Islami drew the attention of the house towards a grade 11 sociology book taught by Allama Iqbal Open University which, according to him, was allegedly teaching “anti-Islamic values” to the youth.”

Deputy Speaker Durrani immediately passed a ruling and called for a ban on the book and demanded legal action against the author and the publisher.

He also referred the matter to the house committee concerned.

Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi accused Ahmadis of damaging Islam and claimed that the Punjab government was not taking any action in this regard.

He said that the activities of the minority group were a threat to the religion.

The deputy speaker also issued a ruling asking the provincial government to take adequate action in this regard.Later, the deputy speaker adjourned the sitting till December 12.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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