ISLAMABAD - The Parliament yesterday strongly condemned the sexual abuse of children in Kasur, asked the government to punish the perpetrators and vowed to make new laws to curb child abuse.

Both the houses of parliament unanimously adopted separate resolutions saying that the alleged abuse of 280 children in Hussain Khanwala village of Punjab was dreadful and intolerable.

“The house vehemently condemns these horrendous incidents in the strongest possible terms and expresses its deepest sympathy and solidarity with the victims and their families,” read the resolution moved by Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Pirzada in the National Assembly.

The resolution called upon the provincial government to ensure that all the culprits and their accomplices are apprehended so that the guilty can be given exemplary punishment.

“This house reiterates its commitment to support enforcement of laws relating to protection of rights of the child and resolves to enact appropriate legislation in this regard at the earliest,” it said.

Unfortunately, the house adopted the resolution when only around 30 lawmakers, mainly from opposition benches, were present.

The opposition lawmakers spent nearly two hours to convince the speaker to initiate debate by taking up the issue in shape of adjournment motion or call-attention notice.

Despite the walkouts of all major opposition parties including PPP, PTI, MQM, the chair gave treasury lawmakers a chance to speak who argued that a provincial matter cannot be debated in the National Assembly.

Almost all the MNAs across the political divide however termed it ‘sexual terrorism’ and they were unanimous that exemplary punishment should be awarded to the culprits and their associates. It was proposed that additional legislation should immediately be enacted to deal with this heinous crime.

PPP lawmaker Nafeesa Shah said there was a need of proper legislation to deal with this brutality which “snatches the innocence of childhood from the children”. “It (Kasur scandal) is just a tip of the iceberg… this is not a provincial matter but a national tragedy.”

PTI lawmaker Shah Mehmood Qureshi remarked that exemplary punishment should be given to the criminals. He opposed judicial enquiry of the matter, arguing that it might not satisfy the aggrieved families. Citing the example of Model Town report, he said the report of judicial commission on this incident too would disappoint the victims.

An MQM lawmaker thanked the media for highlighting the incident. “SHOs and police officers should also be probed thoroughly who were serving in this area for last five years,” said Rashid Godil, adding that it should not be considered a provincial matter.

A suggestion was also floated from religio-political party (JUI-F) to deal this issue in an ‘Islamic way’ under ‘Hadood ordinance’. Party lawmaker Naeema Kishwar said, “Culprits should be stoned to death under Islamic law.”

Jamaat-e-Islami parliamentary leader Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said there was a need for proper legislation to deal with this ‘sexual terrorism’ in the country and suggested the culprits must be given strict punishment without much delay.

Abdul Ghafar Dogar from treasury benches defended the provincial government saying it was investigating the matter to bring out ‘real facts’ behind the scandal. “No stone will be left unturned in probing this matter,” he added.

Shah G Gul Afridi from Fata proposed to try this case in military courts. Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour from ANP also condemned the incident. Other lawmakers also expressed their views and asked the provincial government to complete the probe as early as possible.

In Senate, opposition lawmakers from PPP, MQM and BNP-Mengal jointly moved the resolution that condemned the Kasur tragedy. “The house urges the government to ensure that justice shall be delivered and perpetrators be taken to task, they should be handed harsh punishment and made an example. The house reaffirms its commitment to stand by the victims who are the future of Pakistan,” Nasreen Jalil of MQM said while reading out the resolution.

During discussion on the issue, the lawmakers proposed a thorough investigation of the matter. ANP’s Ilyas Balour demanded the trial of the culprits in the military courts while a treasury member lawmaker Ghaus Bukhsh Niazi suggested that the perpetrators should be brought to justice as per Islamic laws.

Farhatullah Babar from PPP questioned, “Who was protecting these criminals?” Senator Rubina Khalid from the same party underlined the need for having discussion on issues related to harassment. Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said that such incidents were taking place all across the country and responsibility lies on every lawmaker to make effective legislation. The chair later referred the matter to standing committee concerned for further deliberations and to discuss the need for constitution of child protection unit.