ISLAMABAD    -   The opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Friday in the Senate warned of dire consequences of an alleged on-going hate speech and re-emergence of sectarian violence in the country.

PPP demanded of the government to take action to curb this menace and give a policy statement in the house over the matter.

Speaking on a point of public importance, the parliamentary leader of PPP in the house Senator Sherry Rehman said that there was an alarming escalation in hate campaigns and sectarian violence against the Shia community in Pakistan. “We are reeling under a new surge of sectarian violence which is targeting Shias across the country and threatening new rounds of instability”.

“There has been an alarming surge in target killings of Shias over the last month. According to few sources, there have been 20 such cases where Shias were targeted on the basis of their faith but it’s extremely shocking that this issue is not being raised,” she added.

She warned that this wave of sectarian violence in Pakistan was extremely dangerous and all of them should agree that they cannot let such extremism and intolerance exist within them if they want to make country a peaceful democratic society.

“Rallies targeting the Shia Muslims are being orchestrated by proscribed terror groups on our roads where hate slogans are being chanted,” she said adding that this was an extremely sensitive matter which needed to be dealt with immediately. “Our people have sacrificed a lot to eradicate terrorism from Pakistan.” 

Stressing on religious tolerance, Rehman said that this was Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan where everyone was free to go to its place of worship according to its faith or religion. “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” She said adding Muslim or non-Muslim, every citizen should have the equal protection of the law. “We seek to be a progressive, inclusive country and such incidents will only tarnish our image in the world,” PPP lawmaker added.

The PPP parliamentary leader concluded her speech by saying, “This issue is a part of National Action Plan but nothing is being done about it.” She said that some people were saying that sectarian hatred was being spread from a neighbouring country. She said this was serious and they will have to give a straight and tough message to banned organizations. “We all need to sit together and come up with an action plan to curb this issue before it escalates even more,” she said adding that the federal government also needed to urgently address the alarming increase in sectarian violence. 

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Moulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that some Shia speakers have been found involved in this hate speech first during Muharram, and these rallies were a reaction from other religious groups. Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani ruled that they should talk about inter-faith harmony and not sectarianism and said that the lawmakers should avoid talking on this issue.  Earlier during question hour session, the parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Mushahid Ullah Khan and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Senator Mian Ateeq Shaikh came to blows in the house for the second time in less than a week.  Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan lost his temper when Senator Shaikh interrupted his speech while the former rose from his seat to ask a supplementary question. 

Shaikh is still thinking that MQM is in power, he said and accused MQM lawmaker for killing 260 people by setting on fire a factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town.  

Mushahid also warned Shaikh that he would see him outside the house while the latter also warned of dire consequences. Both sides exchanged un-parliamentary words that were latter expunged by the chairman Senate.

 

  Mushahid said that MQM had twice made a botched attempt to kill him during his 20 years stay in Karachi and he had reached this position after facing many rogues in the past. 

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq complained that the house is not functioning according to the rules. He said that the chair should take action if someone interrupts other when he wanted to ask a supplementary question.  

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan endorsed the view point of leader of the opposition and said that this should not have been happened. 

MQM Senator Muhammad Ali Saif said that this was shameful for the house when some lawmakers come to personal attacks and abusing one another. “This is disrespect to the house and anyone should avoid personal attacks.” He said that party leadership should be spared even someone makes political attack on another. 

ENDS/