By: Zulfiqar Ahmed
In the wake of a strongly-worded statement by the military, lam-enting civilian government’s poor performance in ongoing war against terrorism, chairman Senate Raza Rabbani on Thursday called for an in-camera briefing to joint-sitting of parliament on country’s foreign policy and National Action Plan (NAP).
Rabbani, a staunch critic of military interference in matters of civilian governments, seemed quite perturbed over a statement released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), and suggested that the government should give an in-camera briefing to joint-sitting of parliament.
“I would like to advise the government that it should give an in-camera joint briefing to a joint-session of parliament to discuss issues related to foreign policy and NAP,” he added, while giving remarks during a debate on the subject. Rabbani insisted that if the government could not convene a joint-sitting, the Senate would hold a special session of the upper house behind closed doors.
He expressed dismay over ISPR statement, and said that all institutions in the country must work within the ambit of the constitution, adding both military and civilian institutions should work within their limits and adhere to rules of business in their mode of communication. Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of opposition in Senate, came to the rescue of the beleaguered government and assured his party’s full support in case of any trouble to the civilian regime of Nawaz Sharif.
He recalled his party’s support to Sharif administration during a sit-in to oust him by powerful opposition politician Imran Khan in Islamabad last year and said: “We’ll stand with you (government), like we did during PTI’s sit-ins, in case of any trouble”. But the legal wizard of PPP did not forget to repeat the rhetoric that the performance of the government is quite poor, adding the ISPR or the Corps Commanders have no right to criticise Prime Minister Sharif no matter how his regime performs.
Referring to a speech made by Mehmood Khan Achakzai, a Pashtoon lawmaker from Balochistan, in National Assembly on Wednesday, in which he said that in case of any fight between the Sharifs – Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif – he would stand by civilian Sharif or Nawaz Sharif, the opposition leader flayed that not a single member from ruling PML-N spoke against the ISPR statement.
Senator Farhatullah Babar of PPP criticised the government for its failure in appointing a foreign minister, a defence minister, backtracking on commitments made with opposition political parties on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), abolishment of human rights ministry in order to hide its poor performance. “I’m pointing out the things which a government spokesman should indentify but it’s interesting that the job of spokesman is being done by me…it’s so sad that I’m playing the role of spokesman for Nawaz Sharif by pointing out what the government should do and shouldn’t,” he added.
Babar said that announcement of government’s poor performance after a corps commanders’ meeting at General Headquarters (GHQ) is not appropriate, adding such announcement after an important meeting by the top military general itself is incompetence. The PPP senator said that the army fights the war against terrorism, but there are questions which the parliamentarians have never asked. “We can also put similar questions like the one asked in ISPR statement? We never asked even about the names of foreign militants which the army says it has killed in operation everyday,” he added. Babar said that the military leadership should have had conveyed its concerns in a private meeting with the prime minister instead of issuing a statement.
Unlike his colleagues from PPP, Senator Nauman Wazir of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stood his ground in support of military’s warning to civilian regime for its poor performance in implementing NAP. He said that the poor performance of the Sharif regime speaks volumes and it has done nothing for development of federally administered tribal areas (FATA), while same applies to other parts of the country except building flyovers in Lahore or doling out taxpayers’ money in constituencies where his party candidates are contesting elections against PTI.
Professor Sajid Mir of hard-liner Jamiat Ahle Hadith said that army had a track record of ruling while sitting behind and making efforts to control affairs of civilian governments. He went a step forward in warning the military and said that it must not try to become a ‘supervisor’ to a civilian government and ‘mind its own business’. Usman Khan Kakar of PkMAP said that intelligence agencies were interfering in internal and external affairs, adding the lawmakers should join hands in order to protect supremacy of parliament. The session was adjourned to meet again on Friday at 10am.
Source: Business Recorder