LAHORE: Planning and Development Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor on Friday said that peace and order in the province could not be guaranteed if blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) continued. He said the faithful would not always wait for court orders in such cases.
The Punjab Assembly resumed its session, some 20 minutes after the scheduled time, 9am.
Ghafoor suggested that the minority members should wait until the court decided Aasia Bibi’s fate. He said, “If blasphemers continue, the society will produce another Ghazi Ilmuddin Shaheed.”
Earlier, Muhammad Ilyas Chinioti, a PML-N MPA from Jhang, during the debate over law and order situation, also said that minorities should refrain from discussing Aasia Bibi’s case, till the court hearing her appeal gave its final verdict.
He was referring to a speech by Malik Perveiz Rafique, an MPA on a reserve seat, on Thursday, in which he had expressed his reservations over the insecurity minority citizens in Punjab faced. He had also spoken in support of Aasia Bibi.
Rafique had demanded that the government do more to provide security to the minorities and their worship places. He had also appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to act against the clerics who were publically supporting Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. Rafique regretted that Qadri was given ‘protocol’ in jail, while Aasia Bibi’s life was in the ‘barrack.’
Several minority members protested against Chinoiti, a son of Maulana Manzoor Chinioti, a Tehreek-i-Khatme Nabuwat leader, and also sought to speak on a point of order. It was then that the speaker gave the floor to Ghafoor.
MPA Najmi Saleem condemned the minister’s statement and accused the Punjab government of discrimination against minorities. She said that while minority members respected for the court, the PML-N did not.
“It’s strange that the honourable Muslim minister is talking about killing people, though his religion prohibits killings of innocent people,” she said.
Law and order situation discussed
Next the speaker asked PML-Q MPA Samina Khawar Hayat to speak on the law and order situation.
She started off by saying that more than Rs40 billion was spent on Police Department every year. She said the money was not being utilised properly.
She regretted that when confronted with the alarming crime statistics in the Punjab, treasure members tried to justify those by citing figures from other provinces.
PPP’s Shaukat Basra said that the chief minister should immediately withdraw the raise in the salaries of police officials. He said Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan was patronising terrorism in the province.
PML-N MPA Chaudhry Ali Asghar Monda blamed the energy crisis for the poor law and order situation in the province.
PPP’s Hassan Murtaza said that while the inspector general of police was always surrounded by a heavy guard. “If the police continue to protect their bosses alone, who will guard the public against criminals,” he asked.
When asked to conclude the debate on law and order, Sanaullah said that the opposition’s suggestions would be considered. He also presented the National Crisis Management Cell statistics for crime on the New Year’s Eve and the following day.
Earlier Sanaullah also answered questions about Revenue and Colonies Department.
The speaker adjourned the session till Monday, 3pm.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.