LAHORE: Monday’s unrest in Faisalabad once again dominated the proceedings at the Provincial Assembly on Tuesday.
Chaudhry Sarfraz Afzal, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA, accused the media, including social media, of damaging his reputation by matching his photo with the man who had shot a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf worker in Faisalabad on Monday.
Silence prevailed in the House when Afzal showed members local newspapers carrying his picture alongside the gunman identified through a TV screen grab.
“For hours the media aired the photo giving the impression that I was that gunman. What kind of a farce is this?” Afzal said.
The MPA said the picture, in which he is seen sitting with former law minister Rana Sanaullah, had been wrongfully used by the media to establish a link between the PML-N and the gunman.
The House echoed with chants of “shame, shame”.
Afzal condemned the violence in Faisalabad.
He demanded that a website (siasat.pk) that had uploaded pictures drawing parallels between him and the gunman be shut down and a case be registered against it under the relevant cyber crime law.
Sardar Muhammad Jamal Khan Leghari urged the House to ensure that the media remained careful while reporting such events.
“We are public figures. Such defamation will not be tolerated.”
Azma Zahid Bukhari accused Awab Alvi, a son of PTI leader Arif Alvi, of being the first to upload such posts on the social media. She also accused the mainstream media of airing news without authenticating them.
Law Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rahman was urged to look into the matter. Later, the House was informed that a report on the matter would be submitted in 15 days.
Rana Muhammad Arshad criticised Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid for inciting violence. “We will not let Pakistan suffer on account of some London or Washington Plans.”
The opposition staged a walkout for the second day on Monday to protest the events in Faisalabad.
Vickas Hassan Mokal, Syed Waseem Akhtar and Chaudhry Aamir Sultan Cheema were among the six MPAs who walked out.
The law minister said the situation in Faisalabad had been normal until 10am on Monday after which PTI workers started forcibly shutting down businesses. He said a committee had been formed to investigate the PTI worker’s death.
The minister denied that there were any links between the PML-N and the gunman. He said the PTI had been given a ‘free hand’ in Faisalabad – a city he called the PML-N’s stronghold.
Rahman said the government would soon announce a strategy for dealing with the PTI’s proposed protest in Lahore on December 15.
Zaeem Qadri said the PML-Quaid had supported the PTI’s call for protest in Faisalabad.
“Do basic rights exist for the PTI and the PML-Q only? What about others? This fraud should end immediately.”
The House unanimously passed six resolutions.
These included making orphan children the ward of state, delimitation of cities to protect agricultural land, provision of identity cards and passports to overseas Pakistanis within a week and demanding the federal government monitor and regulate fees and educational provisions at private medical colleges.
A resolution praising the late Majeed Nizami was also passed.
Khadija Umar requested the speaker to offer fateha for the deceased Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf worker in Faisalabad. However, the speaker adjourned the session till Wednesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2014.