Pakistan: Punjab Assembly bans concerts in educational institutions
On 24 January 2012 the Punjab Assembly in Lahore passed a resolution that bans holding of ‘objectionable’ musical concerts in all public and private educational institutions of the province with 90 million people.
This move came two weeks after three students were killed in a stampede at a concert in Lahore.
Member of Punjab Assembly Seemal Kamran from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, who brought the resolution in the assembly, said that allowing colleges to organise concerts is ‘against Islamic ethics’
When Seemal Kamran moved the resolution against holding concerts in schools and colleges, Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood asked Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan if the treasury members opposed the resolution. Rana Sanaullah replied in the affirmative, after which Seemal Kamran was asked to argue in favour of her resolution, and she stated that “Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. Allowing concerts in educational institutions is against our morals.”
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that the government could not impose a blanket ban on concerts in educational institutions because there were concerts where bands sing ‘harmless’ songs. He said he would support the resolution if the phrase “ban on… all musical concerts” was amended to “ban on… objectionable musical concerts”.
Seemal Kamran agreed to this, and the resolution was then passed unanimously.
Define ‘objectionable’ Speaking to reporters later, outside the Punjab Assembly, Pakistan Peoples’ Party’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Mehmood Basra said that the resolution should not have been passed because no one had defined the terms ‘objectionable’.
Rana Sanaullah told the press that the word ‘objectionable’ reveals that ban is limited to concerts which “have negative affects on educational activities and students minds”. He said that some opponents were politicizing the issue but the matter was clear enough and did not need further clarification.
New resolution of opposition The following day the opposition staged a walked out from the Punjab Assembly after opposition leader Raja Riaz of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was denied permission to speak, Express News reported.
PPP member Sajida Meer had submitted a resolution for the promotion of cultural activities in the assembly. The resolution objected to the resolution for a ban on ‘objectionable’ concerts at educational institutions. The resolution stated that such bans did not ‘suit the 21st century’ and termed the concerts a ‘healthy activity’.
Seemal Kamran, who had moved the ban resolution, said that she opposed Meer’s resolution and said that nobody should promote ‘non-Shariah’ concerts. She underlined that the ban was only for ‘objectionable’ concerts and said that those objecting the ban had not read the resolution carefully.
Condemnation of the resolution “The Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture (IPAC) strongly condemns the resolution passed in the Punjab Assembly on banning of musical concerts in educational institutions,” wrote Umair Jaffar from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Facebook:
“The use of term ‘objectionable’ musical concerts is too vague and has obviously been used deliberately to target any form of musical activity. This irresponsible action is against the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.”
The institute stands for the right of creative expression of every individual and the free movement of ideas and works. On 21 January 2012 the institute had organized an event entitled ‘Reclaiming Civil Junction’ where musicians of Islamabad and Rawalpindi united to take back what the Laal Masjid ‘burka brigade’ took away from them four years ago. Featured artists included Taimur Khan (Sarangi) with Sarfraz (Tabla), Sarmad Ghafoor (Guitar, Vocals), Ehl-e-Rok (Guitar, Vocals), James Stephens (Violin), Gerry Sholomenko (Saxophone), Moolah Omar and the Taliban and others.