MNAs call for proper security at churches

ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly members, mainly from minorities, yesterday stressed the need for proper security at churches in the country.

They also demanded compensation for heirs and relatives of those killed and critically injured in the Quetta church attack. The house also observed a one-minute silence to express solidarity with the victims and their families.

JUI-F minority lawmaker Aasiya Nair, speaking on the church attack incident, said proper compensation should be given to the families of the people who had died and a free medical treatment to all the injured. She said the attack was an assault on Pakistan.

Church administrations, she said, should be allowed to keep licenced weapons to ensure security. “No federal minister has visited the victims or the area so far,” she said, adding a proper strategy should be made to avoid such attacks in the future. She also criticised the non-implementation of the National Action Plan.

MNA Khalil George of the treasury benches proposed Rs 5 million compensation for those killed in the church attack. “There should be an equal compensation package for all the victims in such kind of incidents,” he suggested formation of a committee to ensure fixation of barbed wires around churches in the country. “This committee should suggest at least Rs 100 million for barbed wires around churches in the country,” he said.

Another lawmaker, Lal Chand, said the government should accept its failure to ensure security in the country. “There should be a proper intelligence to foil such nefarious designs,” he said, condemning the church attack.

Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousuf strongly condemned the church attack and claimed the government has contained terrorist activities,” he said, adding the provincial government has given assurance to pay compensation to the suicide attack victims.

MNA Engineer Usman from Quetta demanded payment of compensation to the victim families. “In some of the cases, proper compensation was not given. It needs to be ensured,” he said.

PPP MNA Aijaz Jhakrani said the attack was a message against the country. “The purpose was to tarnish the image of Pakistan,” he said, demanding proper compensation for the victims.

Jhakrani also wanted to point out the quorum issue at the outset of the proceedings, however, the speaker, in a requesting manner, asked him not to point out lack of strength so that the lawmakers could make speeches on the church attack issue.

PPP lawmaker Abdus Sattar Bachani proposed a briefing by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in the house. Bachani further said the government should table the Fata reforms bill in the house.

“We (the Opposition) have registered our protest in previous days, and now all the opposition is once again leaving the house in protest,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shah G Gul Afridi pointed out lack of quorum and the chair suspended the proceedings. The house, in the absence of the opposition, passed two bills, ‘The Pakistan Power and Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ and ‘The National Skills University, Islamabad’.

The statement of objects and reasons of ‘The Pakistan Power and Infrastructure Board Bill’, says, “It was felt that the AEDB should be merged with the PPIB which had been in existence since 1994, to develop the requisite skill and ability to act as one-window facility for all segments of the energy sector”.

At the same time, it says the research institutes of alternative energy envisaged under the AEDB Act, 2010, are proposed to continue under the aegis of the PPIB to ensure continuity in the research and development functions.

‘The National Skills University, Islamabad’ was passed with the aim to upgrade NISTE, Islamabad. It will address the shortage of skilled human resources at all levels.

PPP lawmaker Shagufta Jumani, at the fag-end of the proceedings, pointed out the quorum and the house was adjourned sixth time in the current session for lack of strength.

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