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PML-N MPs decry use of force on activists


PML-N lawmakers on Tuesday lamented the use of batons and tear gas on party activists who clashed with police outside the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) office in Lahore when former premier’s Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz reached there to record her statement in a case.

PML-N MNA Khawaja Asif drew the attention of Speaker Asad Qaiser towards the incident, and said police had used “brute force” against the party activists.

The PML-N leader demanded the immediate released of activists who were rounded up for pelting stones at the police and NAB office.

“They [activists] had gathered outside the NAB office to express solidarity with Maryam,” he said.

“The federal and Punjab governments would be responsible for the political atmosphere growing worse if such actions are not stopped,” he added.

The PML-N leader claimed that the police “tortured” party activists.

“State repression never works and it always turns out to be counterproductive,” he maintained.

“It is a political tradition for party activists to gather for their leader’s appearance before the authorities but in this instance, they were beaten up, their vehicles were damaged and the windshield of Maryam’s vehicle was broken.”

Asif pointed out that PML-N leaders had appeared before NAB several times but the police action against party activists this time was unprecedented and uncalled for.

He questioned the need for deploying so many policemen outside the NAB office in Lahore, especially, when such a large number of them was not even deployed at the Supreme Court.

“The attack has exposed the incompetence of the Punjab government,” he added.

Responding to the PML-N MNA, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed the need for investigating into why the incident occurred in the first place.

“I don’t think the Punjab government would benefit from this violence,” he said, adding that strategy should be devised to prevent such incidents in future.

“Police usually avoid doing this [using force],” he said, adding that PML-N activists also should have shown patience.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s (MMA) Maulana Abdul Wasay also condemned the use of force against political activists and a “woman” [Maryam].

“Maryam had accepted the NAB notice and appeared before it but resorting to such tactics shows that the government is confused,” he maintained.

“The government is creating problems for itself.”

As per the house’s agenda, PPP’s Agha Rafiullah introduced a bill to amend the constitution seeking compensation for the unemployed and the sick. The bill seeks to add Article 27-A in the Constitution. Since the government did not oppose the bill, it was referred to the Standing Committee for further consideration.

Article 27 (safeguard against discrimination in services) states that “no citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth”.

PTI’s Rai Murtaza Iqbal introduced the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the House, saying the bill would allow candidates to provide all the material to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) six months before the elections so that there was no last-minute rush if an objection was raised.

Iqbal said the nomination papers should be scrutinised but the period for it should be increased. The assembly forwarded the bill to the standing committee for further consideration.

Before the session was adjourned, the assembly also allowed PPP leader Naveed Qamar’s request to send 12 bills on the agenda to the ‘select committee’. The bills include the Exit from Pakistan (Control) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Banking Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Trained Paramedical Staff Facility Bill, 2019, the Federal Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the National Disaster Management (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill, 2020, the Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill, 2020, the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, 2019, and the Pakistan Psychological Council Bill, 2019.

At the start of the proceedings, the house discussed the subsidy on fertiliser and seeds. Some lawmakers claimed that farmers were not benefitting from the subsidy.

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