ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly, on the first private member day of 15th session in the shortest time, introduced 11 private amendment bills, including three proposing strict punishments for those guilty of cannibalism.

The house, on the second day of the current session, again saw very thin presence of lawmakers both from treasury and opposition benches. Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to Parliament for second consecutive day, he did not attend any of the houses even for a short time.

Two amendment bills of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers who have already tendered resignations as MNAs were also included in the order of the day. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq called the names of PTI lawmaker to present their bills, which shows their resignations have been put on the back burner.

PPP MNA Imran Zafar Leghari, hinting at empty treasury benches, said the protesting parties (PAT and PTI) outside the parliament are raising voice for this nonchalant attitude of the government side.

Independent MNA from Southern Punjab Jamshed Dasti, on his turn, tried to table a constitutional amendment bill about carving out Southern Punjab province. Giving reference about the resolution, he argued to have a more province in the country. Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid strongly opposed his bill, saying this was not a proper way to initiate process to carve out provinces.

The bill about cannibalism was introduced by MQM lawmakers, SA Iqbal Qadri, Rashid Godel, Sufyan Yusuf, Sajid Ahmed and Iqbal Mohamamd Ali. They proposed punishment for those who exhume corpses or any part of a corpse without permission from the competent authority. The proposed amendment law suggested imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and fine. It further suggests whoever exhumes corpse or any part of it with intent to cook, eat, sell or use for magic any organ or removes hair of female corpse or cooks any part of the corpse or eats or sells any organ of the corpse shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Other two similar natures of amendment bills were also separately introduced by Aliya Kamran, Dr Nikhat Shakeel Khan, Sheikh Salahuddin, Muhammad Muzamil Qureshi and Kishwar Zahra.

These bills were ostensibly introduced in the backdrop of the incident of cannibalism in Southern Punjab area (Bhakkar) in 2011, where two brothers were found involved in this heinous activity.

Another amendment bill was introduced by JI lawmakers for further amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1989, (The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014. It was aimed to insert a clause for the protection of working journalists in the country, who are presently on the hit list of various violent groups.

This draft bill further says that media is a source of creating awareness in the society about national and international issues. The bill pointed out that it is a fact that more than 80 journalists have been killed since January 2000 to date and incidents of attacks, violence, kidnapping, harassment and detentions were committed at least 2,000 times.

It proposed legislation for security of journalists through establishment of National Press Council to solve their problems and ensure their security as well as that of their families while performing their professional duties.

The third biggest opposition party (MQM) MNAs also introduced a constitutional amendment bill, proposing that right to vote of the citizens of Pakistan shall not be affected in case they acquire nationality/citizenship of any country permitted under the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951.

In the amendment, the movers proposed that the dual citizens’ rights of vote and right to run the election campaigns should not be affected in the country.The other bills which were introduced included amendment in the Civil Service Act 1973,  amendment in the Islamabad Restriction Ordinance, 2001, amendment in the election laws, amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan for replacing English language with Urdu to use the national language as an official language, amendment in Human Organs and Tissues Act 2010, amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan for increasing minority seats in the National Assembly, amendment in Pakistan Penal Code Act, 1960, and Code of  Criminal Procedure Act, 1989, for punishing cannibalism and the bill to further amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the purpose of increasing NA seats in Balochistan.

MNA Ramesh Kumhar, on a point of order, drew the attention of the house towards dacoity incident at Abdul Sattat Edhi’s house, saying resolution should be passed in the National Assembly to condemn it. He also proposed a holiday on Dewali day and salaries in advance for Hindu workers. JI lawmaker Ayesha Syed, on a point of order, drew the attention of the house towards inflated electricity bills issued to the masses during the last two months.

Earlier, a treasury lawmaker, Shaista Pervez Malik, drew attention of the house towards Ebola virus and sought effective measures to stop it from breaking out in the country.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Services Javed Akhlas informed the house that incumbent government is taking all measures to stop the virus from entering Pakistan. The President has written letters to provincial governments and the governments of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, asking them to take preventive measures against the spread of Ebola diseases.