PESHAWAR: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain on Monday termed the March 9 mob attack on a Christian residential colony in Lahore an ‘act of terrorists’.
Addressing lawmakers during the K-P Assembly session, Hussain said the agenda of terrorists behind the Badami Bagh incident was to spread hatred in society. “Different sects are being pitched against each other in a conspiracy to destabilise the country.”
Hussain condemned the incident saying burning down people’s houses was similar to the terror acts of medieval times. He added this was not the time for point scoring or playing the blame game. “It is not just minorities who are being targeted – the army, schools, and health workers are also under attack.”
Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Awami National Party’s (ANP) minority lawmaker Asif Bhatti criticised the provincial government of Punjab, saying the incident took place in the presence of police, who silently looked on and did not take any action. “Every time the PML-N is in power, Christians have to face such attacks. The Shanti Nagar, Gojra and Sangla Hill incidents have all taken place under the PML-N’s rule,” said Bhatti.
“Those charged under the blasphemy law are punished, but has anyone who has levelled false blasphemy allegations ever been punished, and will anyone be punished for burning over 200 Bibles?” Bhatti asked the house.
The lawmaker later staged a walkout from the assembly, but was brought back by Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) legislator Abdul Akbar Khan.
The assembly passed the K-P Finance (amendment) Bill 2013, K-P Worker Compensation Bill 2013, K-P Maternity Benefits Bill 2013 and K-P Factories Bill 2013. Whereas the K-P Arms Bill 2013, K-P Explosive Substances Bill 2013 and K-P Prohibition of Usurious Loans Bill 2013 were introduced.
The house also deferred the passage of K-P Motor Vehicles (amendment) Bill 2013 after a long debate over a proposed amendment by Abdul Akbar Khan, who suggested seven-day imprisonment for drivers not possessing registration documents. However, transport minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Excise Minister Liaqat Shahbab and Labour Minister Sher Azam Wazir opposed the proposal.
ANP lawmaker Saqibullah Chamkani also opposed the seven-day jail term, saying it will have adverse impacts. Upon this, Abdul Akbar Khan suggested that instead of seven-day imprisonment the amendment will introduce week-long impounding of the vehicle whose driver has no valid registration. The assembly did not oppose it, thus the speaker deferred the amendment till Tuesday in order to incorporate the changes in writing.
The session was adjourned till Tuesday afternoon.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2013.
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