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Aziz summoned to brief Senate on LoC situation today

ISLAMABAD: After senators blasted India for escalating tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and targeting civilian populations on Wednesday, Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani summoned Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to the house on Thursday (today) to explain why the United Nations Security Council had not been moved against blatant violations by India.

“The Senate condemns violations at LoC and warns India that people of Pakistan will stand like a rock in case aggression is thrust on the country,” Mr Rabbani said.

The issue was raised by PPP’s Sherry Rehman who said that the government appeared to be unmoved by increased violations by India and had not adopted crisis management response so far. She deplored that even buses were fired upon by Indian troops.

She said that the army fired back in retaliation, but the force was not the first line of defence; the government and civil institutions were the first line of defence. She said India had successfully diverted the world’s attention from brutal violations of human rights in held Kashmir and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi was escalating tensions for electoral objectives. The PPP senator also accused the government of dismantling institutions of democracy.

After the Senate chairman summoned Sartaj Aziz, PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha questioned what he called mysterious silence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the issue and linked it with the latter’s business interests.

He asked the chairman to review his decision and, instead of Mr Aziz, summon the prime minister who also held the portfolio of foreign minister. “It is a serious issue and the prime minister should come (to parliament) and make a policy statement,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan also chided the prime minister for his silence and said he would donate Rs50,000 to an association of blind people if Mr Sharif just mentioned the name of Kulbhushan Jadhav — a serving officer of an Indian intelligence agency currently under arrest in Pakistan — in his remarks.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said that it was not appropriate to target the prime minister during a discussion on a national issue. “Your criticism must not go to the extent where it derides the country,” he advised opposition members. “You need to change your attitude.”

Panamagate bill

The house refused to give a one-month extension to the Law and Justice Committee for presentation of a report on a bill seeking constitution of an inquiry commission on the Panamagate issue.

The bill was introduced by Aitzaz Ahsan on Sept 26 and referred to the committee. The panel was required to submit the report in 60 days and it had sought one-month extension from Nov 26 for extensive deliberations on the bill.

When the committee chairman Javed Abbasi sought to move a motion for the extension, it was opposed by PPP’s Saleem Mandviwalla who said the extension should not be given.

Finally, the motion was put to vote and rejected by 15:26 votes. The committee now has three days to finalise the report and present it in the Senate.

NCA bill sent back

The Senate chairman sent back another bill envisaging amendments to the National Command Authority Act-2010 to the Standing Committee on Defence for reconsideration, noting that the amendments would affect fundamental rights of employees of the organisation.

He made the remarks after the committee chairman Mushahid Hussain Sayed presented a report on the amendment bill.

Already passed by the National Assembly and cleared by the Defence Committee of Senate, the bill proposes to change the status of employees of strategic organisations working under the authority to non-civil servants, contrary to what has already been held by the Supreme Court.

The apex court had ruled in January that service rules of employees of strategic organisations were statutory and, therefore, they could approach the court for arbitration. An appeal against the verdict is still pending.

“Provided that notwithstanding anything contained in any judgement, decree, order, directive or declaration of any court including the Supreme Court or in this act or in any other law for the time being in force, the rules, instructions or orders already made, or which may be made, in respect of the employees and strategic organisations of the authority shall be non-statutory unless approved by the federal government and published in the official gazette of Pakistan,” a proposed amendment to Section 15 of the National Command Authority Act reads.

“It is necessary and expedient to amend the… act…to provide more clearly that the federal government shall ensure provision of funds and to further reiterate the original intent of the NCA Ordinance 2007 and NCA Act 2010 that the employees in service of the authority are not civil servants and that legal relationship of the authority with its employees is governed under the doctrine of master and slave and further the proposed amendment shall also prevent the abuse of legal process in respect of affairs of the state,” the bill’s statement of objectives and reasons reads.

Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP had written a note of dissent when the Defence Committee passed the bill. The note of dissent was referred to by the Senate chairman during Wednesday’s proceedings.

In his note of dissent, Mr Babar pointed out that the matter was sub judice as the government’s appeal against the Supreme Court ruling was pending adjudication. “By taking it up at this stage the parliament will not only be discussing a sub judice matter but also will be seen as going as far to stop a judicial process in the tracks. This will pit the two state institutions against each other and is best avoided,” the note read.

Mr Babar said that it had also been argued that a discussion in courts on the employees’ issues would compromise secrecy. He noted that genuine issues of secrecy could be addressed by pleading for in-camera court proceedings.

Meanwhile, a day after Sartaj Aziz spoke on the floor of the Senate, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the adviser, in response to a recommendation by the committee of the whole, had said that a committee headed by the foreign secretary and comprising representatives of the ministries and departments concerned would regularly brief the standing committees on defence and foreign affairs.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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