PA special session on Kashmir marred by MPAs lackluster attitude

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  • Thin attendance mocked both treasury, opposition

  • PPP remained absent from house

  • Resolution for Kashmiris unanimously passed by lawmakers

LAHORE: A special session of the Punjab Assembly was called on Monday to observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day on the request of lawmakers from both the treasury and opposition benches, but it was marred owing to the poor attendance of the MPAs, as most of the seats remained vacant throughout the day.

The lackluster attitude of the lawmakers towards the Kashmir cause can be gauged by the fact that the attendance of the members could not even reach 100 throughout the day in the most august house of Punjab, which has a total strength of 371.

While the benches reserved for ministers remained deserted, the leader of opposition Mian Mehmoodur Rashid as well as Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan – who is considered as the de-facto leader of the house in the Punjab chief minister’s absence – was also not present during the special session on Kashmir day.

It is pertinent to mention here that the session started with a delay of one and a half hour from its scheduled time of 2 PM as not even a single MPA had appeared in the house till 3 PM.

Saadia Sohail Rana and Dr Nausheen Hamid of PTI lamented the ineffective lobbying of Pakistan at the international level and said that the Kashmir Committee of Pakistan had miserably failed to deliver. Therefore, the incumbent chairman of the committee must be removed immediately, said Saadia.

“We do not have any robust policy on the Kashmir issue and we have also failed to raise it at the international level,” Dr Nausheen said.

Shunial Ruth, an MPA elected on the reserved seat of non-Muslims, said that it is extremely disheartening to associate the Kashmir cause with any religion or sect as it is an issue of human rights instead of an issue of the Muslim community alone.

“The minorities played an important role during the freedom movement of Pakistan and we are also adamant to get Kashmir freed from the shackles of India,” she said.

Rana Muhammad Arshad, the chief whip of the PML-N in the Punjab Assembly said that this special session for the Kashmir cause is the continuation of Nawaz Sharif’s speech that he delivered in the United Nations back in 2016 against the atrocities of the Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir.

He further added that all the political parties are at the same page for the Kashmir cause and his leader and the former prime minister also addressed a mammoth public gathering at Muzaffarbad – the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to highlight the brutality of Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir.

Maulana Ghayasud-Din, Malik Arshad, Mian Rafique, Shahzad Munshi, Mian Tariq Mehmood, Amjad Ali Javed, Hina Parvez Butt, Waheed Gull and Nighat Sheikh of PML-N also delivered speeches for the Kashmir cause. Meanwhile, Nabila Hakim Ali, Arif Abbasi, Sabtian Khan and Raheela Anwar of PTI, Dr Waseem Akhtar of Jamaat-e-Islami and Khadija Umar of PML-Q also participated in the debate.

Absence of PPP:

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) preferred to participate in the public rally of the party held at Lahore’s Mochi Gate instead of taking part in the special assembly session that was called to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people. Not even a single MPA of the PPP bothered to come to the house and participate in the special session on Kashmir, as they were busy with the public rally that was addressed by former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Resolution for Kashmiris:

Furthermore, a resolution moved by Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Khalil Tahir Sandhu to express solidarity with the Kashmiris was unanimously passed by the house.

“This house demands from the federal government to continue the political, moral and diplomatic support of the people in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. This house also appeals to the international community to play its vigorous role to provide the Kashmiris with their due rights,” the resolution said.