NA passes bill-extending jurisdiction of SC, PHC to FATA


behind Zainab murder be hanged publicly, demand lawmakers

Zahid Chaudhary/Sophia Siddiqui


The National Assembly Friday passed the Supreme Court and High Court Extension of Jurisdiction to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Bill 2017 extending the jurisdiction of Supreme Court of Pakistan and Peshawar High Court to tribal areas.
The bill moved by Minister for Law Bashir Virk was not part of regular agenda but furnished before the lower house as a supplementary one. Only the lawmakers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) opposed the bill and staged a walk out in protest. JUI-F MNA Naeema Kishwar presented amendments to the bill which were rejected by the house.
MNAs from Fata embraced and congratulated each other after the bill was passed. They termed it a historic decision saying it will bring genuine change in the lives of tribal people, expressing the confidence that other points of FATA reforms package including merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also be implemented forthwith.
In his remarks, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch said credit goes to the present government for abolishing FCR and extending the jurisdiction of superior courts to the tribal areas. He said today all the political parties are united for the mainstreaming of tribal areas. He said it is the right of every citizen of Pakistan to have access to the superior judiciary. He said the tribal areas will also be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at an appropriate time as per the recommendation of the FATA reforms package.
In his remarks, Leader of Opposition Khurshid Shah said that today we have taken another step to the mainstreaming of tribal areas. He said that the tribal people have rendered innumerable sacrifices for the sake of Pakistan and it is their fundamental right to enjoy the status and facilities available to other people of the country.
Life in Fata is currently regulated by the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), according to which jirgas accord punishments in civil and criminal cases on the basis of their own traditions and beliefs while the state assumes a limited role. With a political agent as the judicial authority, criminal and civil cases are decided by him.
The Fata reforms, which include its merger with KP as well as the extension of court jurisdiction, are a part of one of the points listed in the National Action Plan (NAP) countering terrorism in the country. The federal cabinet had approved the extension of the SC and Islamabad High Court (IHC) to Fata in September last year but the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice later changed it to PHC from IHC as MNAs from Fata said it would be extremely cumbersome for residents of Fata to travel to the federal capital for justice.
As the entire nation is aggrieved over the incident of Kasur in which a seven year old Zainab was raped and murdered, the pall of gloom also gripped the National Assembly on Friday as members from both aisles while strongly denouncing the horrendous incident demanded strict punishment- the public hanging of the culprit.
As the house commenced its 51st session, a motion was moved, dispensing with the regular agenda of the day in order to discuss the situation arising out of Kasur incident.
Opening the debate, Leader of Opposition Khurshid Shah said that the horrendous incident has aggrieved the entire country. He regretted the police have so far failed to nab the culprit. He said condolences alone with the bereaved family will not be sufficient. Besides arresting the culprit, the government needs to take steps to avoid recurrence of such chilling incidents in future.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjah urged the political parties to avoid the politics on the matter and rather sit together to chalk out a strategy to avert cases of child abuse. He said that child abuse cases are not confined to one city or province but are taking place everywhere. He said the present government carried out legislation and declared child abuse and seduction a crime. He said there is need to ensure speedy trials in such incidents.
Shireen Mazari said the murderers and rapists of children should be hanged publicly. She said Zainab’s murder is the 12th incident of child molestation and rape in Kasur. She said a serial killer is behind the incident and the police should fulfill its responsibility to arrest the culprit. She also regretted the use of force on protestors in Kasur.
Naeema Kishwar said deviation from Islamic teachings is the root cause of our societal degradation. He said a true Islamic system should be implemented to overcome problems such as of child abuse.
Kishwar Zehra said that Zainab like incident will continue to take place until and unless relevant laws are implemented in letter and spirit. She said seriousness will have to be shown to protect the children from abuse.
Terming Kasur’s incident barbaric, Sahabzada Tariqullah said the parliament will have to fulfill its responsibility to ensure implementation of the laws passed for protection of children.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned the Kasur incident saying this is such a horrific incident which has put the heads of every citizen and Members of the Parliament in shame. She said the elected representatives need to rise above their political affiliations to address such matters. She suggested that issues relating to children need to be made part of curriculum in formal and informal education to curb the inhumane incidents. She said the political parties also need to include addressing such matters in their manifestos. She said the Punjab government is taking steps to arrest the culprit of Kasur incident.
Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry said that suspected persons have been arrested in Kasur tragedy and their DNAs are being examined. He assured that police and joint investigation team will reach the culprit in a matter of hours.
He regretted the violent protests in Kasur following the horrendous incident saying political point scoring should be avoided on such matters. He said the violent protests resulted in the injuries of over one and a half dozen of police personnel including a DSP. He said that thirty seven people were also arrested who were also involved in the ransacking of the places of elected representatives.
The Speaker said that he will constitute a committee to discuss the way forward to address the issue of child abuse. He said it is the matter of the children and future of the country and we cannot remain oblivious to their matter. Earlier the house offered fateha for the departed souls of Zainab, former Air Chief Asghar Khan and the soldiers who embraced martyrdom on the line of control due to the unprovoked Indian firing.

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