A view of the National Assembly.—Photo by AFP
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly unanimously adopted on Sunday a resolution strongly condemning the killing of nine (later revised to 10) foreign mountaineers and two Pakistanis in Gilgit-Baltistan after a visibly overworked Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan shared details of the ghastly incident with lawmakers.
The minister said three Chinese, four Ukrainians, one Russian and one Nepalese had been killed. A Pakistani woman mountaineer and a local guide were also killed.
According to initial reports, he said, the terrorists first kidnapped two local guides to help them get to the place where they perpetrated the heinous crime. One of the guides was killed in the firing while the other was unhurt and was being interrogated, he said, adding that the mountaineers were first subjected to torture and then killed.
He condemned the killing and said it was a conspiracy against Pakistan hatched at the behest of those who wanted to destroy the country.
Chaudhry Nisar, who since taking over the interior ministry about a fortnight ago had to grapple with several terrorist attacks, made a plea to the opposition to understand the situation faced by the government which was yet to settle down.
As an immediate response to the incident, the minister said the government had suspended the chief secretary and the inspector general of Gilgit-Baltistan and constituted an inquiry committee whose report would be shared with parliament.
“I believe in the supremacy of parliament and am of the opinion that it is a place where all important issues of the government should be discussed and decisions taken,” he told the house.
The interior minister said the PML-N government had prepared a national security policy which would be unveiled after the budget session. He rejected a perception that he had a tense relationship with the security establishment because of the new security policy and said he had full support of the army chief in this regard. “Both the civilian and military leaderships are on one page. There is only one voice and that’s of the government,” he quoted the COAS as having said.
Chaudhry Nisar hit out at some elements who he said were creating misgivings between him and the security establishment. “I will not let them succeed.”
He disowned a statement attributed to him that he had set a deadline for the Sindh government to end target killings in Karachi, otherwise the federal government would deal with the matter. “I have absolutely no role in the law and order affairs of the provincial governments; the federal government will only play its role where it’s required.”
About the security policy, the minister said its emphasis was on effective intelligence sharing between civil and military security agencies for better results. He said the army chief was fully onboard and the new security plan would be placed before parliament after its clearance by the PML-N leadership.
He said the policy envisaged an across-the-board improvement in the working environment of security agencies which included limited working hours for police, provision of conveyance, assistance package of Rs3 million in case of death and Rs1m in case of injury and provision of residential plots and houses.
Throughout his speech the minister sounded subdued, asking for a breather to allow him to settle down in his ministry.
Chaudhry Nisar, who as leader of the opposition was known for his scathing attacks on the PPP government in his long speeches, offered members of the opposition to be part of delegations which the government planned to send along with the bodies of the mountaineers to their countries as a mark of respect and solidarity.
He said Information Minister Parvez Rashid would lead the delegation to China. Farooq Sattar of the MQM said it was high time to work out a new national security policy. He suggested that there should be regular contacts between the federal interior minister and provincial home ministers for better working relationship.
Sheikh Rashid of the Pakistan Awami League claimed that Indians were behind the killing of foreigners because the deteriorating law and order situation in the country always suited them. RESOLUTION: The National Assembly, through the resolution, strongly condemned what it called “ghastly and shocking terror attack near the base camp of Nanga Parbat in Gilgit-Baltistan”.
It said this was clearly a deliberate attempt to undermine Pakistan’s image internationally so as to portray it as an unsafe place for foreign tourists.
“This house expresses its deepest sympathies with the families of the victims. It appreciates the action already taken by the minister for interior in issuing necessary instructions to law-enforcement and security forces, and conveying condolences to the ambassadors of the countries concerned.”
The resolution called for action against anti-state elements. It called for greater coordination between security and intelligence agencies.
The resolution moved by Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the PTI was signed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Abdul Rashid Godil.
This was the second time the budget session was disrupted by a terrorist attack forcing the National Assembly to keep aside discussion on important budgetary proposals.
Last week the house had to postpone debate on the budget to condemn the burning of Quaid-i-Azam’s residency in Ziarat and a suicide attack on a bus carrying students of women’s university in Quetta.