ISLAMABAD: A legislative body of the Upper House of parliament on Friday summoned top provincial government officials after medical tests on bodies of three girls found in Cholistan desert confirmed they were sexually assaulted. Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Senator Rehman Malik began the meeting by reiterating his commitment to bring the culprits to task who were involved in death of three minor girls who reportedly strayed into the desert in Bahawalnagar. Dr Azka Haleem, woman medical officer at the basic health unit in Fort Abbas who had conducted primary medical examination of the three girls, revealed that the girls had been sexually assaulted and that they did not die of starvation or a sandstorm in the desert. Malik ordered an inquiry into how the deputy commissioner of Bahawalnagar declared their deaths a ‘natural calamity’ despite the initial medical tests stating the girls had been sexually assaulted. “This is misreporting of the facts,” he observed. A sub-committee headed by Senator Rana Maqbool was formed to further probe the matter. Punjab police team from Bhawalnagar was instructed to appear before the sub-committee on Monday with details of the initial report. Rehman Malik issued special instructions for protection of the doctor and her family. He said that he would recommend the doctor for Pride of Performance Award, since she proved that duty towards Pakistan was above all. The committee also recommended the government to enhance security of the candidates contesting the upcoming general election. “There are severe threats to some political parties and in this regard appropriate measures should be taken to avoid Peshawar- and Mastung-type incidents, which took several precious human lives,” Malik told the meeting. The committee reviewed security measures for upcoming general elections. FIA director general briefed the committee of cybercrime situation in the country. Discussing the damage that was being done to the election candidates via social media, Senator Ateeq Shaikh called for taking stringent measures so that elements seeking to damage a candidate’s credibility ahead of the polls could be taken to task. Rehman Malik asserted that the government must hold talks with the international social media forces so that action could be taken against the culprits. He stressed the need for FIA and PTA to join hands and devise a strategy for immediate redressal of the complaints in this regard. He also called for enhancing the capacity of the cybercrime cell. Senator Javed Abbasi, Senator Kulsoom Parveen, Senator Rana Maqbool and senior officers from ministry of interior, PTA and Punjab Police and forensic expert Bahawalnagar attended the meeting. Published in Daily Times, July 21st 2018.