ISLAMABAD -  Key government ally Maulana Fazlur Rehman - Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal Chief – tasked the government to identify and punish the ‘culprits’ behind the blunder in the  Khatm-e-Nabuwat (finality of the Prophethood) clause when the government least wanted to highlight the issue.

Speaking in the thinly attended National Assembly session Wednesday, Maulana Rehman emphasised that amending the clause was not enough. “We need to find the culprits and punish them. Restoring the clause in its original shape is only half the job done,” he contended as the opposition members gave him admiring looks.

The government itself had pledged to fix the responsibility but it had adopted a go slow policy after the parliament unanimously restored the original clause. The government had thought the issue will die down after the amendment under pressure. This never happened.

The opposition parties have kept the issue alive, demanding the rulers to catch and punish the ‘elements’ behind the controversy. Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered investigations as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief but results are awaited.

As the government tried to satisfy the opposition by taking a few steps towards punishing the perpetrators of the controversy, Maulana Fazlur Rehman woke up.  He had been earlier poked by Awami Muslim League Chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and other lawmakers from the opposition benches for remaining silent over a religious issue. The cleric found the last day of the National Assembly session to shake the treasury benches while standing on the right side of the aisle.

“If a pickpocket steals something from a person’s pocket at a fair, will a discussion on the pickpocket be enough or should we take steps to arrest the culprits. Restoring the clause is not enough, we need to fix the responsibility and punish the culprits,” he thundered.

The government, already under significant political pressure, only hoped to retain Maulana Rehman as their ally. There were fears, he might quit the treasury benches until the issue was resolved up to his satisfaction. Nothing happened.

A day earlier, Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law had launched a bitter attack on the Ahmadi community to prove the government’s commitment towards the finality of the Prophethood.

The lawmaker also criticised the renaming of Quaid-e-Azam University’s (QAU) physics centre after Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate Professor Dr Abdus Salam – an Ahmedi. He conveniently ignored that the physics centre had been approved by Nawaz Sharif last year.

The House also saw a verbal brawl between the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party for the mic. PTI wanted it first, being the larger party. PkMAP Chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai believed he had the first right as a senior lawmaker. The arguments on who will speak first gained so much heat that the chair prorogued the session.

Outside the parliament, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said proroguing the session was a ‘sad development.’

With Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the United States on an official visit, his ministry preferred to ignore the lawmaker’s queries during the ‘Question Hour.’ Minister of State tried to calm down the protesting legislators, but the members never received the replies to their questions. They will need to wait for the next session.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Oct-2017 here.