Senators blast harassment of woman in Lahore

PTI legislators also staged a protest and token walkout from the House, demanding release of four imprisoned female members of the party

By Mumtaz Alvi
February 28, 2024
ASP Shehrbano rescues the woman in Ichhra Bazaar in Lahore, in this still taken from a video (left), and the image of the dress that sparked the mob. — X/OfficialDPRPP/TahirAshrafi

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Tuesday witnessed female senators expressing grave concern over the growing intolerance towards women while referring to the recent mob harassment of a woman wearing a dress with Arabic calligraphy printed.


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf legislators also staged a protest and token walkout from the House, demanding release of four imprisoned female members of the party.

Speaking on a point of public importance, PPP Senator Rubina Khalid said that it was unfortunate that a woman in Lahore was harassed only because she was wearing a shirt with Arabic letters printed on it.

She pointed out that scenes that have become viral on the media are horrific and asked how Arabic letters were misunderstood as Quranic verses by the mob. She continued that it was utter ignorance that some people could not make a difference between the Quranic verses and Arabic letters.

The senator remarked, “This shows intolerance and ignorance in our society, as the enraged mob would have done something worse if the police had not reached in time to protect the woman. We need to think about where we are heading. There should be a debate on this in the House.”

She also strongly objected to a video in which the woman apologised in the presence of accused and police. The senator questioned that why she was forced to make a public apology for action she had never committed.

Senator Rubina explained that the shirt the woman was wearing belonged to a brand based in Saudi Arabia. She wondered, “It is fine there but here women are harassed in the name of religion.”

PMLN Senator Saadia Abbasi believed that the matter was very serious and regretted that no one talked in the House over the issue on Monday. She said the incident badly damaged Pakistan’s reputation internationally.

Supporting the PTI demand, she contended that PTI’s jailed women including former health minister Yasmeen Rashid and Sanam Javed besides others should be released immediately.

She strongly advocated production orders for PTI senators including Ejaz Chaudhary and Shibli Faraz. To the surprise of many, she urged for allotment of due share of reserved seats of women and minorities to the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

MQMP Senator Syed Faisal Subzwari wondered what kind of a Muslim someone was who had studied the Holy Quran but could not read and identify a single word of Arabic. “And what kind of a Muslim is someone who, despite knowing how to read Arabic, levels false accusations against others,” he questioned.

Making false allegation of blasphemy, he said, was the worst form of disrespect to Islam and remarked, “I wish the House could have made a proposed legislation over the misuse of blasphemy laws. I would love to present a piece of legislation again in the House.”

PTI Senator Ali Zafar urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to immediately allocate reserved seats to the SIC according to its proportionate strength in the National and provincial assemblies. He argued the PPP and PMLN claim to these seats was an undemocratic step. “This would be unconstitutional and against democratic norms if some political party wanted these seats,” he said. Earlier, his party members staged a noisy protest in the House demanding release of four women leaders of the party who are behind the bars on charges of attacking military and civil installations during the May 9 incidents of violence. JUIF, Jamaat-e-Islami senators, besides PMLN Senator Saadia Abbasi, endorsed the demand of PTI members.

JUIF Senator Kamran Murtaza said this reflected lawlessness in the society.

While referring to Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz and PPP leader Faryal Talpur, he said that it was also wrong what happened in the past with women of other parties.

As PTI senators returned to the House, Senator Ali Zafar called four imprisoned women of the party as “prisoners of conscience” and demanded their immediate release. He warned that this practice should be stopped at once otherwise women of other parties could face similar ‘justice’ in future. The House would meet on Friday at 10:30am.