The Friday session was a welcome break from the hostility witnessed in the Punjab Assembly during the last two sessions.
The legislators, who were extremely polite to each other, passed three unanimous resolutions. The resolutions condemned the tabling of a resolution by a US Congressman about Baloch right to self-determination and the burning of copies of the Quran by NATO forces in Afghanistan and pledged all-out support for the rights of the Baloch.
At the start of the session PPP’s Raja Riaz congratulated Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa and Kamran Michael on being elected Senators. He then welcomed the Indian delegation sitting in the gallery.
The resolution condemning the move by a US Congressman was moved by PPP’s deputy parliamentary leader Zulfiqar Gondal. It read, “It is the unanimous opinion of the house that the resolution is an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan and poses a serious challenge to integrity of the country.”
The resolution was carried without opposition. However, Gondal pointed that the members present in the house did not meet the quorum requirement. He asked the speaker to put off the resolutions until Monday so that they could be passed in the presence of all members of the house, a real show of strength. The speaker denied his request after Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that there would be no doubt as to how the house felt even if only 45 members were present. “The issue is very important,” he said, “postponing it would send the wrong message. People might think that the house is divided.” At this PML-Q’s Samina Khawar Hayat quipped that if the matter were so important, how come so few members were present in the house. The law minister had no answer.
The second resolution about supporting the Baloch was moved by Rana Sanaullah. The text of the resolution said, “The time has come to put an end to injustices done to the people of Balochistan. The rights of the Baloch people will be protected at all costs.” The resolution also demanded that the people responsible for killing Nawab Akbar Bugti be arrested and punished.
Gondal, on a point of order, suggested that the development budgets of the other provinces should be diverted to Balochistan for the next three years so that the “massive development that the province needs” could be carried out.
PML-Q’s breakaway faction leader Sheikh Alauddin said that all members of the Punjab Assembly should go meet the Baloch leaders who are in exile.
The third resolution, condemning the Quran-burning incident at Bagram airbase, Kabul was moved by Chaudhry Zaheeruddin. The resolution read that the “despicable act” had hurt the feelings of all Muslims. The resolution demanded that the perpetrators of the “heinous crime” should be tried in an international court. Soon after the passage of the resolutions Hayat pointed out the quorum. The session was adjourned till 3pm on Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2012.