The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday seeking a ban on organising ‘objectionable’ music concerts in private and public education institutions.
The resolution was among a total of eight presented in the House. Five were passed, two were pended and one was disposed off.
The session started at 11.55am, with a delay of almost two hours from its scheduled time. Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Saeed Elahi answered members’ questions about his department.
When Seemal Kamran – a Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) member – moved the resolution against holding concerts in schools and colleges, Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood asked Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan if the treasury members opposed the resolution. Sanaullah replied in the affirmative, after which Kamran was asked to argue in favour of her resolution.
“Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. Allowing concerts in educational institutions is against our morals,” Kamran said. “When I was in college, we used to get into trouble for keeping long or painted nails. Institutions have now done away with that kind of discipline in the name of ‘moderation’,” she said.
The MPA said that such concerts were nothing more than “publicity tools” for educational institutions. Referring to the incident at Alhamra Cultural Complex in which three students died earlier this month, she asked the members to pass the resolution “for our children’s safe future”.
At this point, Sanaullah said that the three girls had died in a stampede after a concert that had been organised by a group of private colleges. “Had the event been organised by a public college, the media would’ve blamed the government,” the law minister said, adding that it was “unfortunate” that the media had downplayed the incident “because the man who owns that group of colleges also owns a news channel”. He criticised the media for setting a “precedent”. “[This means that] anyone who owns a newspaper or a TV channel can cover up any misconduct,” he remarked.
He then said that the government could not impose a blanket ban on concerts in educational institutions because there were concerts where bands sing ‘harmless’ songs. He said he would support the resolution if the phrase “ban on… all musical concerts” was amended to “ban on… objectionable musical concerts”.
Kamran agreed and the resolution was then passed unanimously.
Speaking to reporters later, outside the Punjab Assembly, Pakistan Peoples’ Party’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Mehmood Basra said that the resolution should not have been passed because no one had defined the terms ‘objectionable’.
The House also passed a resolution that demands that the federal government issue blue [official] passports, free of charge, to members of the provincial assemblies like it does to members of the National Assembly and Senate. The resolution was moved by PML-Q’s Samia Amjad on behalf of her colleague Samina Khawar Hayat.
The House also passed the resolution presented by the PML-Q Parliamentary Leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin Khan. The resolution demands that the federal government issue funds for installation of tube wells in areas with saline water in the Punjab, as part of Pakistan’s Salinity Control and Reclamation Projects (SCARP).
Two other resolutions were passed. One was moved by PML-Q’s Chaudhry Aamir Sultan Cheema, who asked that waiting rooms be constructed in all public hospitals. The other, introduced by Humaira Awais Shahid (also from PML-Q), supports the formulation of a comprehensive policy on controlling population.
Debate on a resolution that seeks a ban on the screening of Bollywood films, moved by PML-Q’s Amna Ulfat, was put on hold after Sanaullah said that after the Punjab government was in the process of formulating legislation on the matter.
Another resolution was pended after several members recommended amendments to it. Presented by Ziaullah Shah, the resolution demands that all graveyards have boundary walls. It also seeks the abolishment of black magic and kafan theft.
The session was adjourned till Wednesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2012.