ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Wednesday after a heated discussion witnessed consensus of treasury and opposition benches to form a fact-finding committee to investigate incidents of violence against minorities in the country.

The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle before reaching on consensus to constitute a committee also briefly indulged in a verbal brawl for accusing a Sindh assembly lawmaker of involvement in some cases of violence against minorities.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) senior lawmaker Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on point of order, drew attention of the House to the incidents of kidnapping and killing of businessmen from Hindu community in Sindh province.

“Relatives of a sitting Member of Parliament were killed in Umerkot district but no proper action was seen to ensure security to minorities,” he said, adding that Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah should watch the rowdy behaviour of his minister in the area. “I’m not afraid of Qaim Ali Shah as even if he wants to sue (me), I am ready for it,” he said adding that they would stand behind victim Hindu community.

Supporting his voice, Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Ahmed said they were in favour to protect the rights of minorities. He also supported the suggestion of fact-finding committee to investigate the incident. However, he opposed Qureshi for accusing MPA in this matter.

“I support the suggestion of forming a house committee but I do not agree with Shah Mehmood Qureshi for accusing any MPA, as he might say it in an emotional state,” said opposition leader. However, a PPP lawmaker Shazia Marri in a harsh tone asked PTI lawmaker not to utter objectionable words against the lawmaker.

PPP lawmaker Nawab Yusuf Talpur also supported the suggestions to constitute a committee to probe the incidents of violence against minorities. PPP MNA Ayaz Somroo also supported that government should start an impartial inquiry to establish the facts behind these incidents.

A PTI lawmaker from Sindh said that targeted killings were continuing in Sindh and the government had failed to protect the rights of religious minorities. “There is need to take steps to counter violence against religious minorities,” he added.

Taking the floor, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif though termed it a provincial matter but vowed to work jointly to resolve the issues of minorities. “It is responsibility of both the federal and the provincial governments to provide security to minorities... It is shameful that sufferings of minorities are increasing,” he said, adding that federal government would also discuss the issues of minority communities with provincial governments. He supported that a committee of MNAs should be constituted to probe the matter. Another ruling party lawmaker, Rana Tanvir also supported the idea.

Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, after thorough deliberation, asked Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid and PPP MNA Nawab Yousuf Talpur to make the terms of reference (TORs) and finalise name for the probe committee.

The PML-N government, in a comparatively short session, came under severe criticism for allegedly creating hurdles in PTI members’ preparation for ‘Azadi March’. PTI lawmaker Javed Hashmi came down hard on the government for allegedly diverting his plane to Islamabad from Sialkot, where he was to deliver speech in a political gathering.

“PML-N is facing agitation due to its deeds,” he said. “It is breach of my privilege. I’m also writing a book and will unveil many facts... Masses are asking for accountability for their votes,” Hashmi said, adding he was not going to create any unrest. Supporting his voice, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah condemned the incident saying action should be taken on it. “I and Tehmina Doultana had faced similar situation but then it was a dictator’s era... civilian political leaderships should not be afraid and such steps should not be taken,” he added. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif suggested sending this matter to privilege committee for probe. “Action will be taken if allegations were proved true,” he added.