NA flays circulation of blasphemous material

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday passed a joint resolution unanimously to condemn circulation of blasphemous material on social media and urged the government to take necessary measures to curb it.

The House also authorised Speaker National Assembly to constitute a 10-member committee comprising members from all parliamentary parties to discuss the issue and propose some cogent measures to prevent circulation of blasphemous material on social media.

The resolution was jointly moved by PML-N member Capt Muhammad Safdar (retd) and JUI-F member Naeema Kishwar, and adopted unanimously.

The resolution urged the government to take necessary steps to block dissemination of sacrilegious and blasphemous material on social media as it is hurting sentiments of Muslims.

The House also discussed the motion relating to industries and production policy of the government.

PPP MNA Nafeesa Shah said the debt burden is increasing while exports are falling rapidly, showing a failure of the government to improve performance of industries and production sector.

“Our industry and agriculture are on the decline and we need to promote agro-based industry to boost our exports,” she said, adding that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an opportunity to improve performance of the industrial sector.

She said that special economic zones are to be established under the CPEC, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered for revival of the local industrial and production sector.

“The government has been offering numerous incentives to Chinese investors and I want to ask if the government is offering the same incentives to local industrialists and investors,” she said.

She said that banks have been giving loans to industrial sector at an interest rate of 6 per cent, but the same loans are being offered to farmers at 14 per cent.

Responding to all these points, the parliamentary secretary for industries and production admitted that there is a need to focus on value-addition of the products to increase volume of exports.

He said that an NA committee should be constituted to discuss different proposals to improve the agricultural sector as if production of agriculture decreases, it impacts the whole economy.

The parliamentary secretary said the government announced an auto policy in March last year and this has helped improve performance of the sector.

The House also passed a resolution urging the government to take immediate steps to establish a women’s university in each district of the country.

Speaking on the resolution, Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Balighur Rehman said that Higher Education Commission (HEC) is implementing a comprehensive plan to set up a university or a campus in each district of the country.

He said education is priority of the government and efforts are under way to ensure that no one remains uneducated. He pointed out that at present there are 14 women universities in public sector and more are being established.

The minister said that campuses of Sardar Bahadur Khan University are being set up in Khuzdar, Pishin and Nushki districts of Balochistan and fund allocations for this purpose have been made in the PSDP.

He said education statistics are improving as a result of measures taken by the government. He said the percentage of out of school children has been decreased from 6.7 million in 2012-13 to 5 million in 2015-16.

The budgetary allocation for education has also been increased during the last three years and it is now close to 2.5 per cent of the GDP, he said, adding the government is also focusing on applied research in universities.

He said standard of public sector universities is also improving and ten universities have been included in the three hundred best universities of Asia.

Responding to a calling attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Interior Dr Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla told the House that facility for testing of food items is available at National Institute of Health.

He said that a food authority is being set up to address the issue of adulteration and a draft bill in this regard has been prepared and sent to the Ministry of Law for vetting.

Responding to another calling attention notice, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali informed the House that further recruitment in the authority is being made which will help improve its performance.

The National Assembly passed ‘The Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017,’ to enable more educational institutions across the country to affiliate themselves with the federal board.

Twelve bills were introduced in the National Assembly including: ‘The Religious Scholars, Ulema and Pesh Imams (Prayers Leaders) Welfare Bill, 2017,’ ‘The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2015,’ ‘The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Bill, 2016,’ ‘The Law Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2016,’ ‘The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2016,’ ‘The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2016,’ ‘The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2016’ and ‘The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2016.’

The bills also include ‘The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017,’ ‘The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017,’ ‘The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ and ‘The Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, 2017.’

The chair referred these bills to relevant standing committees.

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