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TLP protest: Opposition MNAs censure government t over media blackout

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ISLAMABAD: The opposition members in the National Assembly came down hard on the government for imposing a media blackout over the issue of Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protests.

Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, speaking on a point of order, said there had been a media blackout and rumours rife in the entire country, as nobody knew what was happening all around. “You are the most fascist government in history of the country despite your claims of giving freedom to the media,” he said.

Regretting absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan from the house proceedings, the PPP leader said the government was avoiding its responsibilities and it did not know how to handle the sensitive issues.

He said the PM was answerable to the National Assembly and he should have given a statement in the House instead of appearing on the television. “The prime minister can appear on the television screen but does not turn up here to give a policy statement,” the PPP leader said. He alleged that the PM had appointed bigmouth spokespersons, who had been spreading hatred, dividing the nation and wreaking havoc on moral values of society. “The direction which you have chosen is very dangerous for the country,” he said.

Regretting attitude of Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, who also left the House after uttering a few words, the PPP leader said rather the minister’s attitude was insulting towards the National Assembly and he passed on his responsibility to the religious affairs minister. He said when he was the prime minister, his government handled the issue of blasphemous acts in Denmark sensibly and did not opt for firing on protestors.

He also asked as to who gave the government authority to reach an agreement with the TLP, which was neither presented in the House nor it was shared with the media. “The government has totally failed on the issue and does not know how to handle the issue,” he said.

JUI-F MNA Abdul Shakoor also censured the government and held it responsible for mishandling of the sensitive issue. He reminded the interior minister that he used to support the TLP sit-in in Islamabad and hurling of threats at the then government while sitting on the stage. He said the JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman had already announced support to the TLP demands and the party would march towards Islamabad with them.

Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad, in his brief address in the House, said he was part of negotiations with the TLP leaders till 3am on Monday, saying that another round of talks would be held after Namaz-e-Taraveeh and hopefully the nation would hear good news.

However, he added, the government and parliamentarians were more Aashiq-e-Rasool (SAW) (Lovers of Prophet PBUH) than the TLP people. Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said the government, in the last four months, tried to resolve the issue amicably and peacefully, directly or indirectly, through talks.

Without commenting on expulsion demand about the French ambassador, the minister said the ulema were highly respectful but it was the government and the parliament which was to take decisions about country’s foreign policy.

He said the government kept doors open on negotiations, adding that the government was bound to implement the agreement. He said the government also offered the other side that the speaker would constitute a parliamentary committee of all parties and the foreign affairs experts would brief it on the issue.

“We ask the TLP that they should convince the committee about their demands and whatever decision is taken by it will be implemented,” he said. The minister said negotiations were in progress when the TLP gave deadline of April 20 for acceptance of their demand.

“In this situation, it was responsibility of the government to keep roads open and maintain law and order situation,” he said. He added that the government was following a policy of dialogue and reconciliation, saying that so far two rounds of talks been held, while another sitting was scheduled after Namaz-e-Taraveeh on Monday night.

The opposition members rose in their seats registering strong protest as the speaker gave floor to the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan who also said the government wanted to resolve the issue through dialogue.

The situation forced the speaker to adjourn House proceedings till Thursday afternoon. The National Assembly Monday passed “The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2020” and “The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2020”.

“The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2020” aims to socially and economically protect the senior citizens of Islamabad. In this respect it aims to establish a fund for these senior citizens as well as build and maintain old-age homes for the indigent senior citizens.

“The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2020 proposes legal and institutional framework for the territorial jurisdiction of the Islamabad Capital Territory to ensure that victims of domestic violence arc provided legal protection and relief and the perpetrators of this offence are punished.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari thanked Chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee Mohsin Dawar on taking keen interest in getting the two human rights related bills sail through the committee.

Five bills were also introduced in the House, which include: “The Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill, 2021”, “The Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021”, “The Holy Quran [Elimination of Printing and Recording Errors) (Amendment) Bill, 2021,” “The State Owned Enterprises (Governance and Operations) Bill, 2021” and “The Jammu and Kashmir (Administration of Property) (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Newspaper: The News

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TLP protest: Opposition MNAs censure government t over media blackout

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