A resolution condemning Sunday’s bombing at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park was passed unanimously by the Punjab Assembly on the first day of the session convened after the attack on Wednesday.
Lawmakers from the opposition benches criticised the chief minister over his absence from a condolence reference held during the session. Prayers were offered for the departed and for speedy recovery of the injured. The session also observed a minute’s silence to honour the victims. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal set aside the agenda to take up the resolution moved by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. Earlier, on Monday, four similar resolutions had been submitted by the Opposition lawmakers.
The resolution was unanimously passed by the House. It said the attack was a cowardly attempt to target innocent civilians. The resolution also offered support to the armed forces, police, security and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to curb terrorism.
Sanaullah told the House that the government would leave no stone unturned in the war against terrorism.
“We have no option but to win this war,” he said. He assured the House that the chief minister had offered full support to agencies to speed up the operation. “Facilitators of the terrorists are present in our neighbourhoods. These facilitators are worse than those who commit acts of terror,” he said. He said an operation to break their network was underway. He told the House that 164 operations had been conducted by the police and 33 by the Counter-Terrorism Department since Sunday’s attack.
He said the intelligence agencies had conducted 149 operations. “Of the 12,940 people questioned, 410 were arrested,” he said. The minister said five terrorists had been killed in encounters with law enforcement personnel. The law minister said the number of ‘jet black terrorists’ arrested in 2015 was 88. He said 24 ‘jet black’ terrorists had been arrested over the last three months. Leader of the Opposition Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said the government was responsible for the security lapse that resulted in the attack.
“Despite the fact that many Christian families were celebrating Easter [in the park] on Sunday, the government failed to ensure proper security there,” he said.
He said there was consensus among political parties over the National Action Plan but the government had failed to ensure effective implementation.
Syed Waseem Akhtar of Jamaat-i-Islami said a false perception was being promoted among the public against seminaries in south Punjab.
“This is far from the truth,” he said.
PPP’s Sardar Shahabuddin said, “Our law minister is aware that the facilitators are being facilitated on the basis of liking and disliking.”
Recommendations on improving policing, regulation of mosques and seminaries and disbursement of compensation for the victims’ families were made.
There was an argument between the speaker and Siddique Khan. The latter said that even the interior minister had blamed the incompetence of the Punjab government for the law and order situation in Islamabad.
The session was adjourned till Thursday morning.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2016.
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