The government’s cluelessness about the whereabouts of three close aides of Asif Ali Zardari marred the sessions of both houses of parliament on Wednesday leading to a protest and subsequent walk-out by the PPP.
Meanwhile Defence Minister Khawaja Asif reiterated in the Senate that the contours of the Saudi-led anti-terrorism military alliance would shape up in a meeting of defence ministers of all 41 members of the coalition expected to be held in Riyadh in May.
Responding to queries of PPP lawmaker in both houses of parliament, Minister of State for Interior Balighur Rehman said the government was trying to locate Ashfaq Leghari and Ghulam Qadir Murree who were picked up from Sindh and Nawab Leghari who was disappeared from Islamabad. “The Sindh Rangers have clarified that the two men … are not in their custody. The Rangers and the ISI have been asked to locate them,” he added.
The state minister said an FIR had been registered against unidentified men who had whisked away Nawab Leghari.
Leader of the opposition in National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, who belongs to the PPP, said his party would continue its protest until the ‘missing persons’ were presented in a court of law. “If the government’s inaction persists … we [PPP] will not shy away from staging a sit-in in front of your [speaker’s] dais in the next phase,” Shah warned before he led a walkout by MPs of his party.
In the Senate, PPP lawmaker Farhatullah Babar, said: “This is purely political victimisation.”
He warned that if this trend continued, he would be next since he was also close to Zardari.
The MQM also staged a walk-out of the NA against alleged enforced disappearances of more than 150 of its activists.
PTI On Saudi Alliance
Meanwhile, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) submitted a resolution in the National Assembly Secretariat against Pakistan’s decision to join the Saudi-led military alliance and appointment of General (retd) Raheel Sharif as its head.
Taking cognisance of Article 40 of the Constitution which states, inter alia, “The State shall endeavour to preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic unity … and encourage the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means,” the resolution read.
“… it was not in Pakistan’s national interest to get involved in others’ wars as its people were still suffering the consequences of such involvements in the past, PTI expresses grave concern over the government’s decision to join the military alliance,” it added.
Senate waves through military courts bill
Almost all opposition parties – including a government ally Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), PTI, PPP, ANP, JI, PMAP and PML-Q – staged a walkout from the Senate and National Assembly over suspension of identity cards of thousands of people, most of whom were Pakhtuns.
Also on Wednesday, ANP’s legislators and activists also set up a protest camp in front of the Parliament House on the same issue. Although the JUI-F supported the opposition’s contention, it did not join the walkout.
State Minister for Interior Baleeghur Rehman reminded that a parliamentary committee had been formed three months ago to find a workable solution of the problem. “This committee has held three meetings with officials of the Interior Ministry and NADRA and reached a solution. The new mechanism to unblock CNICs has been evolved … It is currently being vetted by the law ministry,” Rehman said.
Senate seeks greater constitutional role
Minister’s policy statement
In a policy statement in the Senate, the federal defence minister said the proposed military alliance’s terms of reference (ToRs) were yet to be finalised. “Pakistan will never become part of any alliance against any country, particularly against any Muslim country.”
Especially mentioning Iran, he said Pakistan would always maintain brotherly ties with its neighbour.
The defence minister disclosed that Pakistan’s armed forces had already been stationed in Saudi Arabia since 1992. “Their numbers keep fluctuating. Our navy and air force had also been there until two years ago,” the minister said. Pakistan, he said, was committed to defending Saudi Arabia and all holy sites, but its forces would not be used against any Muslim country, especially Yemen.
The minister made it clear that former army chief Gen. (Retd) Raheel Sharif was yet to apply to the defence ministry for an NOC to lead the Saudi-led alliance. He said that once the NOC was issued to General (retired) Raheel Sharif, he would inform parliament.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani observed once ToRs of the proposed alliance were finalised, the government would table them in parliament before cabinet ratified them.
Kulbushan Jadhav’s appeal
The defence minister said the Indian could file an appeal against his sentence within 60 days.
In another policy statement Khawaja Asif said all legal formalities had been adhered to in awarding Jadhav’s the death sentence.
Refuting Indian allegations, the minister told the Senate that the trial had lasted three months.
Responding to India’s reaction, the minister said the actions of Indian forces in occupied Kashmir, Gujarat and Samjhota Express amounted to ‘premeditated murder’.
The minister said an appeal could be filed before an appellate tribunal against this sentence. Subsequently, he said, appeals could be filed with the army chief and the president.
Courtesy: Express Tribune