ISLAMABAD - The idea of public hanging of those involved in motorway gang rape incident triggered a heated debate in the Senate on Tuesday with lawmakers from both sides of aisle opposed and supported it.

At least some two lawmakers of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) opposed the proposal and many others, both from treasury and opposition, gave arguments in favour of public hangings of rapists.

The parliamentary leader of PPP in the house Ms Sherry Rehman and former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani opposed the idea of public hanging of rapists of women and children. They urged this mode of punishment was used during dictatorial regime of General (retd) Ziaul Haq but proved futile in ending crimes.

Another senior lawmaker of the party Senator A. Rehman Malik supported demand of public hanging by people of different segments of society and said that this would help in creating deterrence among the masses. Many other lawmakers, both from treasury and opposition, supported the demand of public hangings. 

Senator Sherry Rehman said that demand of public hangings to end crime would not work. “Zia started this but this didn’t help in dropping crime rate,” she said adding that this would only end up causing unrest in the society. 

“CCPO’s late apology left a very bad taste in the mouth as it seemed meaningless and just done to get it out of the way”.

Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani also endorsed her party colleague and opposed the idea of public hangings. “This would only brutalise the society.”

“Why the state does not learn from the history?” he asked.  He noted that the solution lies in enforcement of rule of law and a meaningful prosecution. He also demanded removal of CCPO Lahore for his objectionable remarks.

Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Sirajul Haq said that the objection of Senator Sherry Rehman about public hangings was not correct.

Senator Azam Swati also raised his voice in support of giving harsh punishments publicly and asked for bringing new legislation. 

PPP Senator Rehman Malik termed the gang rape incident a “national tragedy” and supported the suggestion of public hangings of culprits involved in such crimes. “I think such people should be hanged publicly to create a deterrence,” he said, adding, that the existing law allowed that family members of the victim to watch hanging of the convict but public hanging is not allowed. 

He questioned why police patrolling was not deployed, CCTV cameras not installed and fencing was not built along both sides of Lahore-Sialkot Motorway where the incident occurred. He urged the need to bring new law to deal with rape cases. 

Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq urged the need to change Thana (police station) culture in the country and said that there was no solution to end on-going crimes of rape against women and children in the country. He asked for changing the criminal justice system in the country and questioned the procedure of appointment of judges in the higher judiciary. 

Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem said that parliament should identify loopholes in the existing criminal justice system and suggest a better legislation for this purpose. 

PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rasheed also demanded removal of CCPO while PML-N parliamentary leader in the house Mushahid Ullah Khan criticized Senator Aziz for defending the police officer.

The house also witnessed rumpus when Senator Mushahid targeted MQM by alleging that those who killed 260 people by setting on fire a factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town were part of the ruling coalition. 

Two FATF-related bills including Cooperative Societies (Amendment) bill and Anti-terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill already passed by the National Assembly were introduced in the house and were referred to the house interior committee.

Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani adjourned the house till Wednesday soon after the opposition staged a protest walkout from the house.