ISLAMABAD - PTI MNA Ramesh Kumhar in Tuesday’s National Assembly proceedings failed to introduce a bill seeking amendment in the constitution about the alleged misuse of alcoholic liquor in the country.

MNA from treasury benches, on the first private member day of the 6th National Assembly session, attempted to move two bills. The chair, due to majority of votes against the clause introduced by PTI’s member, rejected a bill related to the misuse of the alcoholic liquor in the country.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says: “The non-Muslim (minorities) of Pakistan are facing defamation, agony, insult and discrimination. That all the religions existing in Pakistan are agreed that none of any religion allows consumption of alcoholic liquor for religious purpose, so in Pakistan the use of alcohol in the name of non-Muslims is a blasphemy act.”

It says: “This is one of the reasons for amending the said clause of constitution of Pakistan. As due to misuse of this clause, the wine shops in the country remain open 365 days in the year. This also the reason for making the amendment in the above said clause of constitution of Pakistan”.

The minority member from Sindh was interested to introduce a bill for amendment in Article 37(h) of the Constitution but it was rejected by majority of members. Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri, however, on majority of voice, decided not to introduce the bill.

Talking to The Nation, after the proceedings of the house, Ramesh Kumhar said that his amendment regarding usage of liquor should be passed with a majority of vote. “It was surprising for me when voice was heard against this bill. I have again presented the bill in the house for legislation on it,” said PTI MNA, mentioning that through amendment in this particular amendment, he was interested in the omission of words ‘non- Muslim and religious purposes’.

The parliamentary secretary for Law and Justice PTI’s Maleeka Bokhari had earlier proposed to refer the bill to the concerned standing committee. She also commented that this bill had already once been moved but it was of no use at all.

The chair, however, allowed him to introduce his second bill for the rights of minorities in the country. The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says: “the minority community strongly feels that representation in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies may be increased according to the proportion to the population of non-Muslims.”

Citing the example of Jordan, Lebanon, India, New Zealand, Fiji, Croatia, Iran and Belgium, he proposed direct electorate for non-Muslim instead of choosing from the party list. The proposed legislation seeks amendment in Article 25B, 51, 63B, 92 and 106 of the Constitution.  The proposed amendments seeks establishment of women universities in each city of the country, increase in number of seats for non Muslims in  National Assembly and provincial assemblies and right to cast dual vote, one vote for general seats and second vote for reserved  seat.

The opposition lawmakers, in the middle of the proceedings walked out from the proceedings of the house in protest. They left the house for not taking the agenda items in orders by the chair.

A senior lawmaker from MMA Maulana Abdul Akbar introduced the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeking to stop transfer of votes to permanent addresses of voters. The mover, through the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018, sought increase in provincial assembly seats from one to two. The chair moved the bill to the concerned committee. A  JUI-F lawmaker Aliya Kamran also introduced the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which was also moved in the concerned committee.

Earlier, Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar claimed that there was no gas load-shedding in any part of the country. Minister, responding to a call-attention notice, there was issue of low gas pressure in some areas. ”Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Limited is executing two projects of replacing the old pipelines with new ones at a cost of 2.28 billion rupees which would help increasing the pressure,” he added.

About journalists’ walkout from the house , Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said 460 million rupees have been released by the Federal and Punjab governments to the media outlets to protect the jobs of media workers. He said they were framing a new advertising policy. He expressed concerns over the downsizing in media outlets.

About the concerns raised by opposition lawmakers on agriculture, the minister said this government was giving priority to the agriculture sector.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi, responding to the concerns raised by opposition, informed that a detailed plan will be shared in March next year to make NACTA more meaningful.

Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood, responding to concerns raised by opposition about salaries issue of the teachers of basic education, said the salaries will soon be paid after approval.