Kashmir remained the focus of the Provincial Assembly proceedings on Thursday with lawmakers from the Opposition and Treasury benches taking the floor to condemn Indian atrocities in the region and to urge the federal government to raise the issue at international forums.

Calls were also made for intervention in the occupied territory to provide, food, aid and shelter.

The discussion started with Sheikh Alauddin’s proposal to invite Indian author Arundhati Roy to the Provincial Assembly to honour her for her remarks on Kashmir. Roy had earlier claimed that Kashmir was not an integral part of India. In 2010, the celebrated author faced arrest over her Kashmir remarks.

MPA Ramesh Singh Arora delivered an emotional speech condemning remarks made by Indian defence minister. He urged the Foreign Office to summon the Indian High Commissioner and lodge a protest.

He said the Indian defence minister should take back his statement as it had hurt sentiments of Pakistanis and minorities in the country.

Several lawmakers from the Opposition benches criticised the silence of the Arab countries on the violence in Kashmir and weak policies of the government on the issue.

Syed Waseem Akhtar took up the issue of sale and consumption of liquor in Lahore during the question hour on excise and taxation. He expressed concern over a lack of policy prohibiting its distribution. He also staged a token walkout over the issue.

The legislative business on the agenda could not be taken up. Several other issues including live coverage of the assembly session, precautionary measures against Congo virus and poor academic performance of private educational institutions were discussed.

A meeting was also held over a walkout by Opposition lawmakers during Wednesday’s session. After the meeting, the leader of the opposition and the law minister informed the House that the issue had been resolved amicably. They said both sides had agreed to ensure decorum in the House.

Minister for Housing Tanveer Aslam told the House that Water and Sanitation Agency’s managing director had been directed to look into the issue of scarcity of safe water supply. The issue was raised by Mian Aslam Iqbal, who had demanded intervention in his constituency.

Ilyas Chinioti spoke on his concern over a publisher identifying Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam as a Muslim. Chinioti said Salam belonged to the Ahmadiyya community. He asked the chair to investigate the matter and seek a response from the publisher.

Arif Abbasi said the provincial government should take back a notice issued to actor Hamza Ali Abbasi for spreading ‘false rumours’ on social media regarding alleged kidnapping of children across the province.

Abbasi said instead of addressing the issue, the government was silencing those who were raising their voices on the matter. “I condemn this action by the provincial government and demand that it be withdrawn and an apology be issued,” he said.

The law minister replied that the government wanted to regulate social media, adding that after the passage of the cyber crime law, violators could face imprisonment.

Sanaullah said news which created unfounded fear among the public required action from the government. “Some people have exaggerated the news on mainstream and social media. Notices have been issued to make them realize their responsibility in this regard,” he said.

Lawmakers from Opposition benches argued that the government had failed to hold a debate on law and order situation in light of rumours regarding child kidnappings.

The leader of the opposition said that while legislative business was being put on the agenda, the promised debate had been put in pending with the session about to conclude.

The chair announced that the debate would be held on Friday (today).

The Express Tribune