The Punjab Assembly members on Friday remained busy debating Ayesha Ahad Malik’s claims of having married MNA Hamza Shahbaz.
As Law Minister Rana Sanaullah finished answering queries with regards to the treasury, Opposition Leader Raja Riaz stood on a point of order and informed the speaker that a woman called Ayesha Ahad Malik, who claimed to be the wife of MNA Hamza Shahbaz, had appealed to the House for an audience.
He said Malik had approached the Punjab Assembly to seek justice from the Speaker. The opposition expressed solidarity with her cause, its leader calling her a ‘daughter of the soil’ and demanding the formation of a House committee to look into the case. The opposition also threatened to boycott assembly proceedings unless the demand was met. Malik, meanwhile, sat on the steps outside the chamber.
Riaz also demanded that Treasury should brief the House on the actions taken by the government to implement court orders regarding Malik’s case and threatened that the opposition would boycott assembly proceedings if these demands were not accepted. Woman legislators from the opposition also demanded justice for Malik.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah reprimanded the opposition for raising a ‘non issue’ and said that the subject made a mockery of Assembly proceedings. Sanaullah alleged that Malik was a fraud who had stolen her own father’s property. “If you people (Opposition) want to adopt and foster her you are free to do so. She is hardly the daughter of the soil… she isn’t even on speaking terms with her own father”, he said.
The law minister said that the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice had already passed a judgement on the matter and the government had complied with court orders in this regard. Sanaullah said that it was criminal for the opposition to ignore the matter of Aafia Siddiqui only to raise such hue and cry over a woman with a criminal record.
The Speaker adjourned the House to meet again on January 2, at 3 pm. Earlier during the session, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) representative of minorities Pervez Rafiq rose on a point of order and requested the Speaker to take up his resolution for enhancement of minority seats in the House. Rafiq demanded that the federal and provincial government increase the number of minority seats in National Assembly and in all provincial assemblies.
He also demanded to end political injustice with the minorities in the assembly’s reserved seats.
He praised federal minorities’ minister Shahbaz Bhatti, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for ensuring that the Senate was no longer a ‘No-Go’ area for minorities by giving them representation and said that he had submitted a resolution to this end in the assembly secretariat.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2011.