Pakistan’s Lower House of Parliament on Friday approved a resolution demanding public hangings for anyone found guilty of sexual abuse and harassment of children.
Presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Khan, the resolution calling for the death penalty and public executions passed with a sizable majority. He told the National Assembly that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to introduce the death penalty for anyone found guilty of child rape. Another PTI lawmaker, Imran Khattak, seconded the demand for adopting the resolution.
The Pakistan Peoples Party, meanwhile, objected to the resolution as a matter of principle. Senior party leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that under the U.N. Charter Pakistan was a signatory to, no one could be publicly hanged in the country. Any move to implement this would be met with international backlash, he warned.
While the PTI tabled the resolution—and a majority of its lawmakers backed it—members of the federal cabinet sought to distance themselves from it. Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Twitter said he condemned the resolution. “This is just another grave act in line with brutal civilization practices [sic]. Societies [should] act in a balanced way, [barbarity] is not an answer to crimes. This is another expression of extremism,” he said.
Similarly, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari sought to downplay the resolution being tabled by a PTI lawmaker. “The resolution passed in NA today on public hangings was across party lines and not a government-sponsored resolution but an individual act,” she said on Twitter. “Many of us oppose it—our Ministry of Human Rights strongly opposes this. Unfortunately, I was in a meeting and was not able to go to NA,” she added.
Earlier in the day, the National Assembly was briefed about sexual harassment of children in the federal capital. According to the briefing, there were 60 cases registered in Islamabad in 2019, while 66 were registered in 2018. It said that 80 people accused of sexually harassing children had been detained in 2018, against 75 nabbed in 2019. However, only one of the accused in 2019 was convicted, while the remaining cases are still pending.