Federal Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Alam Gilani informed the National Assembly on Tuesday that over 180 incidents of suicide had been reported in different parts of the country over the past year. He was responding to a call-attention notice of PML-N members Barjees Tahir and Rohale Asghar on the private members’ day. In the notice, the PML-N leaders criticised the government for its failure to curb price hike and alleviate poverty which they said were forcing a large number of people to commit suicide. The minister said that 113 cases of suicide had been reported from Punjab and 56 from Sindh over the past year. In Balochistan and Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, he said, the number of suicide cases was about 20. He admitted that the government had been unable to create employment opportunities largely because of incidents of terrorism. He said that long periods of dictatorship were also among the main reasons of people’s disappointment and frustration. The minister said there could also be several other reasons for some people deciding to end their lives, but apparently poverty, inflation and unemployment were the main reasons for the unfortunate trend, adding that bringing about immediate improvement in national economy was not an easy task. Speaker Fehmida Mirza said that it was the responsibility of parliamentarians, media and civil society to discourage this trend and programmes should be initiated to end people’s sense of hopelessness. WATER SCARCITY: Another issue which dominated the Tuesday’s proceedings was faulty water distribution system among provinces and water scarcity in several areas of Sindh, Balochistan and south Punjab. PPP MNA from Muzaffargarh Jamshed Dasti protested against what he described great injustice being meted out to the people of south Punjab in water distribution, funds’ allocation and provision of jobs. He said there was no water in canals of south Punjab whereas those in upper Punjab kept flowing throughout the year. Dasti urged the authorities concerned to take notice of the protest demonstrations in Muzaffargarh and other areas and called for representation of south Punjab in the Indus River System Authority (Irsa). PPP MNA from Thatta Abdul Wahid Soomro said that there was no water in coastal areas of Sindh for people to drink or even to perform last rites. A woman member of the ruling party, Nasim Chaudhry, voiced concern over a ban on new tube-well connections in Multan and adjoining areas. She asked the prime minister, who was present in the house, to explain why this ban had been imposed and when it would be lifted. Nawab Yousuf Talpur, who presided over the session in the absence of the speaker and deputy speaker, asked Federal Minister for Labour Syed Khurshid Shah to take notice of the complaints about the water scarcity. The minister assured the chair that he would take up the matter with the provincial authorities. BENAZIR’S MONUMENT: Veteran PPP legislator and former deputy speaker Syed Zafar Ali Shah, who has criticised his own party’s government several times in the past, urged the prime minister to stop the construction of Rs2 billion Benazir Monument project in Islamabad terming it a useless exercise and waste of money. The PPP leader suggested that the funds should be allocated for setting up a university in Bhutto’s name. F-16 AIRCRAFT: PML-N MNA from Balochistan Abdul Qadir Baloch drew the attention of the house to contradictory statements issued by the authorities in Pakistan and Washington about the use of recently acquired F-16s. He said Pakistan Air Force chief had stated that the PAF could use the aircraft against any adversary, but the US had categorically stated that these planes would be used only in the operations being carried out in the western region of the country and given an assurance to India to that effect. “What is the use of these aircraft when these cannot be used against the enemy,” he asked. He also said that the defence ministry should clarify whether the Shahbaz Airbase at Jacobabad was under the US control. FAKE DEGREES: PPP’s Dr Azra Fazal said the issue of fake degrees should not be taken up for discussion on the floor of the National Assembly and should be resolved through courts. HAZARA: Sardar Shajehan Yousuf alleged that police had nominated him, his father and other leadership of Hazara for carrying out protests on April 12, despite the fact that he was out of the country at that time. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he would seek a report from the provincial chief secretary and inspector general of police in this regard.
By: Dawn News

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