NA bars Hindu lawmaker from presenting bill seeking ban on alcohol

  • Dr Ramesh Kumar called for introducing strict laws to ban sale of alcohol in the name of any religion.

ISLAMABAD – A Hindu lawmaker was barred from tabling a constitutional amendment bill, seeking a ban on the sale of alcohol, in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Pakistan Tehreek Insaf’s (PTI) Hindu MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar sought permission to present the bill, stating that alcohol consumption is prohibited in all religions, including Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. He called for cancelling the alcohol permits in the country.

The PTI and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal supported the bill but it was opposed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The bill seeks an amendment to the Article 37 of the Constitution.

A section of the Article states,

The State shall prevent the consumption of alcoholic liquor otherwise than for medicinal and, in the case of non-Muslims, religious purposes”. 

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, however, barred the minister from presenting the bill after the majority of lawmakers, who were present at that time, voted against it.

The MMA, in response to the deputy speaker’s order, protested and demanded voting on the bill again.

The opposition parties, including PML-N and PPP, staged a walk out in NA over not running the session according to the agenda.

The session of the lower house of the parliament was then adjourned till Wednesday.

Talking to media outside the assembly, Kumar called for introducing strict laws to ban sale of alcohol in the name of any religion.

Kumar said unfortunately a number of people had obtained the permits for alcohol business in the name of Hindu religion, which was unacceptable.

An expert is of the view that the PTI legislator could get approved the bill from the NA easily by ensuring the presence of the members of the his party and allies as the Imran Khan-led party is in the majority.

In 2014 when Kumra was also the MNA had said alcohol is strictly forbidden according to the teachings of the Shrimad Baghwat Piran – a Hindu holy book, while also emphasising that decision makers (MNAs) or other higher-ups in the community are prohibited to drink under any circumstances.

“Sale, production, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages in Pakistan occurred under the banner of minorities which is strongly offensive and insulting,” Dr Ramesh said.