LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly has passed a resolution seeking a ban on organising ‘objectionable’ music concerts in private and public academic institutions.
The move comes weeks after three students were killed in a stampede at a concert in Lahore.
The resolution is among eight presented on Tuesday, which has been specified as a private members’ day. Five resolutions were passed, two are pending while one was disposed off.
Seemal Kamran, an MPA from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, moved the resolution against concerts. Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood asked Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan if the treasury members opposed the resolution.
Sanaullah replied in the affirmative, after which Kamran was asked to argue the merits of her resolution.
“Pakistan is an Islamic republic and permitting music concerts to take place in public and private educational institutions is against the morality and ethics of Islamic culture,” Kamran said. “When I was in college, our teachers questioned us over [inane things like] long and coloured nails. These days, institutions have done away with this kind of discipline in the name of ‘moderation’.”
She asked the house which rules allowed such concerts to be organised. “Academic institutions are using these concerts as opportunities to publicise their branches.”
Citing the unfortunate deaths earlier this month, she demanded that the resolution be passed for the sake of a secure future for our children.
After hearing her arguments, Sanaullah said that the government cannot impose a blanket ban on concerts as many of them include national songs etc. Therefore, he suggested, the word ‘objectionable’ be added to the resolution and lent his support if that amendment was made.
The resolution was then unanimously passed after Kamran agreed to Sanaullah’s suggestion.
During the debate on the resolution, the law minister claimed that the media had downplayed the incident where three girls died in a concert organised by a private college, which is owned by the same group that runs a popular nationwide news channel. “If the same incident had occurred in a concert organised by a government college, media would have been severe in its criticism. The media has set a precedent that if someone wants to smoothly run a business, they can conceal misconduct by also running a channel or newspaper on the side.”
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters outside the Punjab Assembly, Pakistan Peoples’ Party’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Mehmood Basra said that the resolution should not have been passed as no one had defined the word ‘objectionable’ or what is in the ‘national interest’.
Meanwhile, Punjab government’s spokesperson Senator Pervaiz Rasheed has ruled out any ban on cultural activities in the province.
“Assembly resolutions are respected and we are aware [of the new resolution],” Rasheed said. “According to them, concerts should be banned because some students lost their lives in a stampede at a concert in the past. But, just like we don’t stop organising Muharram processions despite attacks, we can’t bar anyone from organising concerts.”
The house also passed a resolution seeking a blue passport Gratis for members of provincial assemblies along the lines of those issued to members of the National Assembly and Senate.
The resolution, which was moved by PML-Q’s Samia Amjad on behalf of her party colleague Samina Khawar Hayat, seeks that the federal government issue the passports.
Meanwhile, PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Chaudhry Zahiruddin Khan moved a resolution that recommended that federal government issue funds for SCARP projects in Punjab. Under the project, the federal government has to issue funds for installation of tube wells in areas where water is saline. The house approved this resolution as well.
Two other resolutions were passed. One resolution, moved by PML-Q’s Chaudhry Aamir Sultan Cheema, sought establishment of waiting rooms in all public hospitals. The other, introduced by Humaira Awais Shahid (also from PML-Q), supported the formulation of a comprehensive policy on controlling population.
Debate on a resolution, moved PML-Q’s Amna Ulfat and seeking a ban on the screening of Bollywood films, was put on hold as Sanaullah said that after the 18th amendment, the subject was of provincial significance and the Punjab government is working on legislation on the matter.
Another resolution was introduced by Ziaullah Shah, seeking construction of boundary walls around all graveyards and abolishment of black magic and kafan theft, was also pending as many members presented amendments for it. MPA Samia Amjad said that there should be a law sentencing black magicians to death while Shahid said that they should be banned from advertising in newspapers.
The session was adjourned till Wednesday.
A simple resolution is a legislative proposal that addresses matters entirely within the prerogative of one house or the other. It requires neither the approval of the other house nor the signature of the President, and it does not have the force of law. Most simple resolutions concern the rules of one house. They are also used to express the sentiments of a single house.