By Hassan Ahmad
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Friday unanimously passed the ‘Punjab Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill 2018’ making Quranic teachings mandatory in all public and private sector schools and colleges in the province.
As per the details, the said bill was presented in the house on January 30 this year during the 34th session of the Punjab Assembly by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) member Dr Syed Waseem Akhtar. The bill was sent to the standing committee of the education at that time, for further deliberations.
At the time of the bill’s presentation, School Education Minister Rana Mashhood Khan said that the government cannot even think of opposing the bill as it is part of our faith and beliefs.
However, the bill appeared on the agenda list on Wednesday this week on the private member day and was initially delayed 25 minutes due to the lack of quorum after which it was decided by Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Mohammad Iqbal Khan that it was best to adjourn the matter to May 3.
On Friday, the bill was brought in the house out-of-turn as the government is not in a position to afford further controversy over the issue that is close to the sentiments of every Muslim and therefore, the bill was passed unanimously.
Sharing the pros and cons of the bill with Pakistan Today, MPA Dr Waseem Akhtar said that the recitation of Quran would be compulsory from grade one to five while the holy book would be taught with translation from grade six to twelve in every school of the province.
“The acceptance of this bill is my sole earning during my five-year stint as an MPA; this would be a great asset for me on the day of judgement,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that it was the second private member bill that was passed by the Punjab Assembly during its ongoing term that is going to expire on May 30 next month after completing a five-year tenure. Earlier, another private member bill regulating the marriages of Sikh couples was also passed in March this year. The bill was hailed worldwide because it was the first of its kind across the globe.
Moreover, the ‘Punjab Sound Systems Regulation, Amendment Bill’ was also passed unanimously in the house on Friday, allowing religious seminaries to use loudspeakers for prayer calls, Friday and Eid sermons and also for the praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Meanwhile, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah refused to apologise for his archaic misogynist remarks against the women of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). Sanaullah justified it by saying that he has withdrawn his remarks on a TV talk show so, there is no need to seek an apology now.
Opposition leader Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed commented on the situation saying that Sanaullah should behave like a dignified person and seek an apology from PTI’s female members. Upon which Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Khalil Tahir Sandhu quipped in about Ayesha Gulalai and Imran Khan, resulting in the opposition’s walkout.
Earlier in the day, an MPA representing the minorities, Shehzad Munshi said that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is not issuing marriage certificates to Christian couples and the community is facing a ton of problems in this regard. Munshi told Pakistan Today that Khalil Tahir Sandhu, who himself is a Christian, has failed to address even an iota of the problems faced by the Christian community during the last five years.
During the session on Friday, only questions related to the school education were answered in the question hour and questions regarding agriculture and higher education were deferred for another day. The session will resume on Monday at 2 pm.