Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani Tuesday fixed an adjournment motion seeking debate on the Justice Faez Isa Inquiry Commission report on August 8 terrorist attack on a Quetta hospital, for a two-hour debate today (Wednesday).
The adjournment motion moved by 14 opposition lawmakers belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami party (PkMAP), a government ally, was moved by Sherry Rehman and admitted by the chairman for debate.
Speaking on the admissibility of the adjournment motion, Sherry criticised the ruling government’s inaction against terrorist organisations and suggested that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan should accept responsibility and resign as the report had exposed the latter’s ineffectiveness and his links with the banned outfits.
A suicide bomber, after the assassination of a lawyer, hit the emergency ward of the Civil Hospital, Quetta. At least 70 lawyers and others were killed in the attack, which was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.
The chairman also directed Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq to inform the law and justice minister or minister in-charge for Cabinet Division, to brief the House today (Wednesday) about the government’s decision to bring all the regulatory bodies under the lines ministers.
“The regulatory bodies have been handed over to the lines ministers…don’t you think with all this, the very concept of a regulatory body comes to an end,” questioned Rabbani. Speaking on a point of public importance, Senator Azam Khan Swati of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came down hard on the Ministry of Interior for cancelling the visit of Department for International Development (DFID) head in Pakistan Richard Montgomery to Peshawar, where he was to meet the Chief Minister and Speaker KP Assembly.
He said that cancellation of DFID’s head visit to Peshawar on December 06 under the pretext of no objection certificate (NOC) shows that the ruling government wants to centralise the powers, which is a violation of 18th Constitutional Amendment.
“The KP Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution asking the federal government to withdraw the condition of acquiring no objection certificate for foreign delegates to visit the province, and we condemn this act of the federal government to stop the foreigners’ entry into the KP province,” he added.
The PTI senator said that there is a need to give more administrative and economic powers to provinces, but the federal government is discouraging the foreign delegates from visiting the KP. “The KP is part of Pakistan and if a foreigner could be allowed to live in Islamabad, what’s the harm in allowing him to visit a provincial headquarters, where he was going to meet the chief minister and the speaker,” he questioned.
However, State Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control Engineer Balighur Rehman rejected the notion that the DFID head was stopped by the Interior Ministry, saying there was no such bar on him.
“The DFID head had neither applied for an NOC nor is there any such record with the ministry that he was ever stopped from visiting Peshawar. There are some places in Pakistan where entry of foreigners is not allowed,” he added. “The places where foreigners are not allowed to travel included Cherat, Nowshera Cantonment and other sensitive places and a foreigner can not be allowed to travel without the orders of the Defence Ministry, which issues directives under Foreigners Order, 1951,” he added.
He also said, “Any foreigner can not be prohibited from travelling anywhere in Pakistan as there is a laid-down rule for movement of foreigners which is done under a proper Act, and if this does not suits the country, you can make amendment in it.”
Speaking on a point of public importance, Senator Samina Abid of PTI demanded the government to bestow civilian award on deceased deputy commissioner Chitral Osama Ahmad Warraich, who lost his life in a recent PIA plane crash along his wife and a 10-month-old infant daughter.
She said that young bureaucrat who died at the age of 31, changed the destiny of the backward valley by initiating different development projects with the help of development organisations, for which the people of Chitral still mourn his death.
“Not a single bureaucrat since creation of the district did development work for the area what Osama did within a short span of his 14 month stay as deputy commissioner…he truly deserves a highest civilian award for services as he’d completely changed the bureaucratic culture,” she added.
Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani directed the government to pursue the matter as what could be done for the young officer who embraced martyrdom along with his whole family in the line of duty. He also asked the Leader of House to consult the Defence Minister for starting C-130 flights for Chitral, the issue which was raised by Samina as people have been stranded after the closure of Lowari Top.
The Senate referred the issue of Area Study Centre at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, to its Committee on Cabinet to recommend how to save the institute from extinction. The matter was raised by Senator Farhatullah Babar during discussion on issues of public importance. He said that as a result of devolution and demise of the federal education ministry, the Area Study Centre located at QAU had become almost moribund and needed to be rescued.
He said that Area Study Centres located in various universities of the country were conceived as foreign policy think tanks to give expert opinion on alternate policy options specific to geographical areas assigned to these centres in the country. The Islamabad Area Study Centre being one of them was also set up under a 1975 Act of the Parliament
Babar said that after the demise of federal education ministry, QAU was left without umbrella ministry, adding at the same time the recommendation to place the Area Study Centre under Cabinet Division was not fully implemented and the Area Study Centre was left orphan. He said that both the QAU and the Area Study Centre were products of two different legislations. The QAU, thus, could not take control of the Centre as the Act of 1975 was still in operation and has not been repealed.
BILLS ‘The Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016,’ moved by the law minister was referred to the concerned committee for further deliberation.
According to statement of objects and reasons, the existing law relating to appointment of commissions of inquiry and empowering them for the purpose is the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956 (VI of 1956).
The Act has been invoked for setting up fact-finding commissions on a number of important national issues in the past. However, on some matters the need has been perceived for a commission with greater powers than those that can be conferred under the Act.
“It is, therefore, considered desirable that a new law be enacted enabling the government to confer additional powers on a commission of inquiry, where the nature of the issue is being inquired into so requires. Accordingly the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016 has been prepared to achieve the aforesaid object,” it added.
The Senate also passed ‘The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2016.’ The bill was moved by Law and Justice Minister Zahid Hamid.