ISLAMABAD - In a rare show of parliamentary unity, all the government and opposition senators Monday staged a walkout from the Upper House of the Parliament to condemn the killings of May 12, 2007 and demand investigations into the incident to bring the culprits to justice.
Strangely, even the lawmakers of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), who were part of the then federal government led by Pervez Musharraf, staged a protest walkout against the May 12 carnage .
Dozens of people were killed on the day when the then deposed chief justice of Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had to land in Karachi as part of the lawyers protest movement against sacking of judges of superior court.
On the first day of the new session, when the entire legislators deserted the House, the chair said in a lighter tone, “Why we are sitting here?“ Treasury member Mushahid Ullah Khan accused MQM for being responsible for the May 12 killings. MQM lawmaker Nasreen Jalil rebutted the allegations. She claimed allegations against his party were baseless and 42 workers of MQM also died in the crossfire.
MQM also staged another walkout from the House over government’s delaying issuance of NICOP card and passport to its party chief Altaf Hussain. “We will shut down Karachi for a year, we will shut down every city of Pakistan if our leader is not given due right,” they said before staging walkout.
Mushahid Ullah said, “I thought MQM will talk about Karachi killings but they are talking about Altaf Hussain’s passport... the whole world calls you terrorists.” He said that UK authorities will not let Altaf leave country because of the crimes he committed there. He said MQM was part of Mush government and hence accomplice in May 12 killings and Red Mosque operation.
The opposition benches also criticised the other day’s rallies of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Rawalpindi and Imran Khan’s in Islamabad for what they said their unconstitutional demands. They condemned PTI chief and PAT chief for using unreasonable words for the parliament. Raza Rabbani said, “Dr Qadri is violating the constitution... where is Pemra that is allowing TV channels to broadcast his speech... We will not allow anyone to disgrace the constitution and the state, and the government was responsible for it.”
Rabbani said that seven years before the then military dictator and his allies murdered innocent people in Karachi only because then deposed CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry had stood on principles and a new history was being written. Hasil Bazenjo of National Party, Afrasiab Khattak and Farhatullah Babar condemned human rights activist Rashid Rehman’s murder in Multan and demanded investigation into May 12 killings. Khattak said protests by banned organisations in support of army were disgraceful for state institutions.
Farhatullah Babar expressed his surprise saying, “This is interesting how the narrative of protection of journalists after Hamid Mir attack case was changed with the narrative of protection of honour and dignity of certain institutions.” Mushahid Syed said that the irregularities in elections as pointed out by PTI chief Imran Khan was a very basic issue and the government should hold inquiry.
Monitoring adds: On a private member bill by MQM’s Mashhadi, the Senate unanimously passed a law prescribing a maximum punishment of life imprisonment to those found guilty of desecrating graves.