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Prayer in the Pakistan Parliament?

by Daily Times, 13 June 2010

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(Source: The Daily Times, 13 June 2010)

EDITORIAL: Prayers and proceedings

The norms and rules of civil decorum in the National Assembly (NA) seem to have been compromised on Friday [11 June 2010]. Unfortunately irrationality reared its ugly head on the fourth day of the Assembly’s budget debate. Maulvi Asmatullah — recently separated from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) — shocked many during Assembly proceedings by loudly reciting the azaan from his desk whilst facing the chair rather than the Kaaba. Apparently, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, who was overseeing the proceedings, had been asking the MNAs to remain brief so they could break for Friday prayers when Asmatullah decided to take matters into his own hands. After his display of religious obligation, he proceeded to storm out of the Assembly because the call for prayer had remained unheeded by the members.

Odd to say the least, this episode is a reminder of the irrational mentality that has overtaken us in almost every area. It is also apparent from the lack of criticism or protest by the members of the NA that such an attitude is gaining free rein to practice religious matters outside of accepted boundaries. Although left speechless, the members ignored Asmatullah’s display. Such lack of ire at the Maulana’s disrespect for the Assembly’s proceedings and rules is even more amazing than the original act.

The NA is the forum where pressing issues of national importance are discussed, debated and legislated upon. It is not a platform for any member’s personal preferences. If the Assembly is to be bogged down by such matters, clearly there are MNAs occupying seats who have no business being there. Asmatullah is already known as a hardliner, and as such should not be allowed to disrupt the Assembly further.

It is sad to see that now a debate has started as to whether the azaan can be recited in the house and whether one needs to face the Kaaba or not. Instead, the members ought to have denounced the Maulana’s provocation. The Assembly ought to be treated with more respect as a platform for thought, ideas and debate on issues of national importance. It is urged that its members should reserve a reprimand to Asmatullah for disrespecting these weighty principles.