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Senate assails Sabeen’s murder, exhibition of controversial cartoons

Senate assails Sabeen’s murder, exhibition of controversial cartoons

ISLAMABAD: The Senate unanimously passed on Wednesday two resolutions, one condemning the recent targeted killing of a human rights activist in Karachi and the other criticising the exhibition of controversial caricatures in the US.

The resolution on the killing of civil society activist Sabeen Mehmud, who was shot dead in Karachi on April 24, was moved by Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) after a brief debate on a call-attention notice by PPP’s Farhatullah Babar.

The house paid rich tribute to Ms Mehmud for her services for human rights and urged the government to arrest her murderers.

Also read: Intelligence agencies to probe Sabeen Mahmud's murder: ISPR

Speaking on his notice, Mr Babar said Ms Mehmud had been assassinated after she made available the platform of her NGO for discussion on missing persons in Balochistan.

He reiterated his call for legislation to bring the intelligence agencies under the ambit of law in order to protect them from unsubstantiated allegations of involvement in extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and grave human rights violations.

The second resolution, moved by PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain Sayed, said: “This house strongly condemns the latest attempt in the US to malign Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) through blasphemous cartoons and caricatures. Such deliberate actions on the part of demented Islam-haters are unacceptable.

“These hate crimes also reflect double standards, since such blasphemy is justified as freedom of expression while, concurrently, there are laws which imprison those who merely deny the holocaust.”

The resolution urged the government to “immediately take up this issue of Islamophobia with the OIC as well as the UN Human Rights Council”.

It demanded that “strict legislation, similar to that about the holocaust, be enacted in western countries so that action, under the law, can be taken against all those who malign Islam or the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.

The resolution urged the United Nations “to ensure that freedom of expression is not abused to malign any religion or hurt the sentiments of any people, ethnic group or religion”.

WATER PROJECT: Later, the house witnessed a debate on an adjournment motion moved by MQM’s Ms Jalil and Tahir Mashhadi, regarding “inordinate delay in the execution of K-4 (water supply) project of which 50 per cent cost is to be shared by the federal government”.

Ms Jalil said the delay in start of work on the project, aimed at providing 620 million gallons of additional water a day to Karachi, had already caused a 100 per cent increase in its cost. She said the original cost of the project approved in 2007 was Rs12 billion which had now reached Rs25.5bn.

She said the federal government in the last budget had allocated Rs200 million for the project, but had so far transferred only Rs80m to the Sindh government. On the other hand, she said, the Sindh government had allocated Rs840m.

Despite this, she said, work had not been started on the project that would take four years to complete.

The MQM senator accused the Sindh government of having a discriminatory attitude towards the urban population and expressed fear that water shortage might cause ethnic riots in the city.

PPP’s Taj Haider and Sassui Palejo defended the Sindh government and blamed the federal government for the delay.

PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi, who belongs to Karachi but has been elected senator from Punjab, defended the federal government and alleged that the delay was because of mismanagement and corruption at the provincial level.

Winding up the debate, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal urged the Sindh government to release matching funds for the project.

The centre, he said, was ready to pay its share if the Sindh government fulfilled its responsibility. He said the prime minister had also allocated additional Rs3bn for the project.

Meanwhile, responding to some members’ points, Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Aminul Hasnat said no change had been made in the Haj application forms and a column indicating sect of the intending pilgrims had been there for the past 20 years.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2015

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