A resolution supporting mandatory teaching of the Quran, with translation and comprehension, in all public and private educational institutions was passed, unanimously, on Tuesday by the Punjab Assembly.
The mover of the resolution, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s (PML-F) Dr Asma Mamdot, said young people had no knowledge of Quran’s teachings. She said that she planned on moving a bill in the house soon.
During the session, a minority MPA criticised the Punjab government for “stopping” him and other Christians from performing rituals at the grave of the late minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti on his death anniversary.
The Tuesday proceedings started at 11:12am, more than an hour after 10 am, the scheduled time. During the day, reserved for private members, two resolutions were passed, another two were rejected, one was disposed of and one was kept pending. Minister for Agriculture Ahmad Ali Aulakh answered questions about his department.
The resolution presented by Mamdot said that the house was of the opinion that the teaching of Quran should be made mandatory in all educational institutions in order to “sensitise” the young generation. It called for making Quran lessons part of the syllabus, starting from grade 1 and continuing till professional degrees. The Punjab government was also asked to allocate funds for teaching of Quran.
Mamdot later told The Express Tribune that madrassas’ interpretation of the Quran was turning children into terrorists. She said she believed that terrorism would be eliminated from the country if Quran was made part of school and college curriculum.
PPP’s Pervaiz Rafique Malik, an MPA from Faisalabad, said on a point of order that he had wanted to hold services at the grave of Shahbaz Bhatti, in Samundri, on March 4. Malik alleged that the Punjab Police had besieged his house, preventing him from holding a service.
Bhatti was buried on March 4, he said, adding that “thousands” had been stopped from paying their tributes. “About 5,000 others who succeeded in reaching the graveyard were harassed by the Police,” he said.
He protested against his house arrest as well as a “breach of his privilege”, demanding an answer from the government.
“Dr Paul Bhatti, late Shahbaz Bhatti’s brother and an adviser to the prime minister, had asked the police that Malik be stopped from holding any service at Shahbaz Bhatti’s grave,” replied Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan. The government was not a party in what happened, Sanaullah said, calling it “a private issue”.
Malik, however, was not satisfied with the law ministers’ reply and asked how Paul Bhatti could have issued orders to the police. Sanaullah suggested that he move a privilege motion.
The second resolution that was passed unanimously was moved by PML-N’s Ziaullah Shah. He urged the federal government to find alternative power generation methods in order to ensure that the country’s industries are not destroyed by the persistent gas shortage.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.