The government on Friday admitted – for the first time – the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The ISIS has claimed responsibility of the suicide attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan Sharif.
This revelation was made during an in-camera briefing to Senate by State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman in the wake of recent terrorist attacks that put the national security back to the top of the political agenda.
In the in-camera briefing, arranged on the special orders of the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani in the wake of five terrorist attacks across the country in the first two days of the current week, it was revealed that ISIS is involved in recent terror attacks.
Some members privy to the briefing, who wished not to be named, told Business Recorder that Baleegh, who is second in command to Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, said the nation should also be ready to eliminate ISIS/Daesh.
They said that the minister kept repeating the official narrative on war against terrorism in the first few minutes, but he “ultimately had to unveil the real characters and reasons behind the fresh wave of terrorism in the country.” The federal government also came under severe criticism for its failure to take the provincial governments to task for their failure to ensure security despite beforehand terror alerts by the intelligence agencies.
The state minister said that there is no denying the fact that Afghan soil is being used for terrorist activities inside Pakistan, adding a list had been handed over to Afghan authorities for seeking custody of some hardcore terrorists.
The lawmakers also demanded repatriation of Afghan refugees immediately if their country does not stop use of its soil against Pakistan, adding, “We have been hosting millions of Afghans for over three decades but they send suicide bombers in return.”
Baleegh told the House that the government made several efforts to repatriate the refugees, but political parties keep creating hurdles saying they (refugees) should be given some more time under the pretext of security situation there.
Earlier, during the proceedings, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani warned the government that he would stop convening the session of the House, even if it is summoned by the President, because the ministers are not taking the house business serious.
Rabbani had issued several such warnings and even stopped entry of defence minister in the past for about a week, but he made it clear again that this time he would stop conducting Senate proceedings. “I’ll come for a minute if the President summons it, and then adjourn it, as the government is not taking interest in running the Senate…this is not acceptable,” he said.
The Senate unanimously passed ‘The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2016′. The bill tabled before the House by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid was passed by the House with some amendments put forth by Senator Farhatullah Babar. The new bill sets the minimum age for marriage for Hindus at 18.
The minimum legal age for marriage for citizens of other religions is 18 for men and 16 for women. Breaking the law regarding the minimum age would result in six months’ jail and a fine of Rs 5,000. Due to absence of any law, the Hindu widows were unable to prove their marriages and gain government welfare benefits.
The new law legalises remarriage of a widow six months after her husband’s death. It also grants Hindus the right to divorce, with women having the additional right to do so on grounds of negligence, bigamy or having been married before 18.
The law minister said the bill will institutionalise marriages of the Hindu community. He said there was no documentation previously in this regard. He pointed out that the bill has full backing of Hindu community, members of the National Assembly and other concerned forums.
Three more bills were laid before the House including ‘The Companies Bill, 2017,’ ‘The Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ and ‘The National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, 2017.’ The bills were referred to committees concerned for further deliberations.