LAHORE: Opposition lawmakers staged a brief walkout from the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday alleging the detention of Jamaatud Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed had come on pressure exerted by India.
Saeed, who is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was put under house arrest Monday night, sparking protests in several cities by his supporters. While the firebrand leader has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks, the US has put a $10m bounty on his head.
Hafiz Saeed’s arrest a policy decision: army
At the legislative session on Tuesday, lawmakers from the opposition came out in support of Saeed and staged a minute-long walkout, alleging the government of going down on its knees on Indian pressure.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Mehmoodur Rasheed, who heads the opposition benches, asked about the reasons behind the house arrest of Saeed. “What was his crime?” questioned Mehmood, whose party has often been accused of taking sides with the right-wing elements.
However, when Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal questioned him about who took the decision, Mehmood said the orders came from the federal government.
“Then you should go there [Islamabad] and ask the federal government about it,” the speaker quipped.
But the PTI leader continued defending Saeed, saying the JuD chief was a citizen of Lahore and he could talk about him in the assembly. “Is he at fault for talking about the people of Kashmir? His charity foundation is serving hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis,” he added.
Speaker Iqbal tried to pacify the opposition leader, saying the law minster would reply him when he came.
Mehmood still went on. He lashed out at the government, saying the Pakistani government bowed to Indian pressure after Donald Trump’s victory in the US.
Dr Syed Waseem Akhtar, parliamentary leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, first announced going on boycott for one minute. His call was adhered to by the opposition, which walked out of the proceedings.
The House, meanwhile, unanimously passed three resolutions.
One resolution related to setting up a website on the life of Quaid-e-Azam so that everyone could easily read about his views and thoughts of the founder of the nation. The second called for steps to be taken for stopping the business of roadside video games cafes. The third demanded nominating either Nasir Bagh or another suitable place for staging protests to avoid traffic jams in the city.
JuD chief Hafiz Saeed put under house arrest
During the Q&A session, Prisons Minister Ahmed Yar Hanjra said the government was working on the construction of 28 double-storey residences. He added residences for 1,000 more employees would be constructed this year.
The legislators also tabled two amendment bills: one calling for adopting Islamic practice of slaughtering animals in Punjab; and the second for increasing the fine from Rs100 to Rs10,000 to prevent of erosion in any area.
The Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Bill 2016 was tabled by PTI’s Dr Nausheen Hamid. The bill aims to amend The Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Act, 1963, which defines slaughter as ‘killing animals by any means’.
Through this amendment, this definition will be substituted as ‘to kill animal by the method prescribed under the Islamic laws’.
The Punjab Land Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2016 related to amending the amount of fine of erosion taking place in any area. The basic intention is to bring at par the amount of fine according to the inflation rate and to control the violation of the provisions of the Act.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2017.