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June 22, 2021

Senate session: How can Osama be declared martyr, asks Sherry

ISLAMABAD: PPP Parliamentary Party leader Senator Sherry Rehman Monday in the Senate criticised the government’s ‘ambiguity’ on Osama bin Laden and asked how he could be declared a martyr when he was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

“Osama bin Laden was a terrorist and anyone who says otherwise is belittling the sacrifice Pakistan made in eliminating al-Qaeda from the region. The fact that they are re-emerging is a real cause for concern, especially as the US forces leave Afghanistan and Pakistan could well be trapped,” she noted. She pointed out that the government’s reluctance on this issue was a cause of real worry, “but I belong to a party which clearly and unambiguously believes OBL is a terrorist. At no point can Pakistan start embracing an international terrorist’s cohorts that our government and military and civilians sacrificed our lives and capital for”.

She questioned, “why is it so hard to call OBL a terrorist when he was responsible for targeting so many Pakistanis? The country has paid such a heavy price for fighting terrorism, and returning to confusion on who constitutes a terrorist will throw us into a dangerous vortex of policy confusion and collateral damage from the escalating violence in Afghanistan”. “From 2008 our anti-terrorism policy was very clear; we stood for hours on the floor of a joint closed session of Parliament to persuade our majority. This sudden political coyness about terrorism today is unsustainable as national security policy, let alone foreign policy. The PPP at least has worked hard to ensure that our sacrifices do not go in vain and are acknowledged by everyone so, this emerging ambiguity about terrorism from the PTI government is outrageous,” she noted. Condemning Prime Minister Imran Khan’s what she called irresponsible statement about women, she said, “it is shocking that he is blaming the way women dress for getting harassed and raped. What’s even worse is the fact that this is the second time he has made such insensitive remarks regarding women”.

“Whether it’s our laws or even our religion, which is very clear that respect for women is the responsibility of the beholder. No man has the right to blame women or how they dress, for violence, rape and crimes against women,” she added.

She questioned, “does the PM not know that by saying women should dress in a certain way, he is giving oppressors and criminals against women a new narrative to justify their behaviour? There is no justification for a prime minister to talk this way. His comments are irresponsible and reflect poorly on Pakistan’s international image. If this is what the PM of our country is saying, how can we expect the women to feel safe and raise their voice against the harassment they face?

The hair-raising issue of sexual abuse of a student inside a seminary by a mufti also echoed in the House when MQM-Pakistan Senator Faisal Sabzwari raised this issue and insisted that CCI should also pay attention to such an important issue. He wanted the religious scholars to set an example instead of trying to protect their ‘colleague’, who had today admitted his crime. “The trend of using the name of Islam for personal purposes must end now,” he emphasised.

The House passed two human right bills, moved by Federal Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, with certain amendments moved by the PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani. The first bill envisages establishing an effective system of protection, relief and rehabilitation of women, children and any vulnerable person against domestic violence: The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021.

The other bill provides for the well-being, comfort and dignity of the senior citizens residing in the Islamabad Capital Territory: The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2021.

However, during the proceedings pertaining to these two bills, JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman’s remark against Dr Mazari led to pandemonium in the House with seven lady senators from the treasury benches came forward to agitate and then a few of them tried to walk towards the Maulana but they were persuaded otherwise by some opposition senators. The Maulana at least thrice disowned and withdrew his remark, which was welcomed and appreciated by the human rights minister.

Regarding the bill concerning domestic violence, Senator Ata contended that this was in contrary to the Islamic injunctions, Quran and Sunnah and the Constitution, as it would be the first step towards break-up of families. He proposed that the bill should have been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology and instead of the House human right committee should have been deliberated upon by the House standing committee on religious affairs.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani assured the House that he would write a letter to the NA speaker that all the bills passed in the Senate, should be taken up in the National Assembly and referred to the house committees concerned.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani regretted that though it was an issue of another House but it was unfair that a bill passed in the Senate, was not taken up in the National Assembly. He emphasised that the bills should be either passed or rejected by the assembly so that he could request for being referred to the joint sitting of the two chambers of the Parliament.