ISLAMABAD: A Special Senate Committee was formed on Tuesday to probe into the alleged efforts to destroy evidence pertaining to the killing of five foreigners by personnel of security forces at Kharotabad last month.The committee comprising law minister and members of the upper house from Balochistan and Sindh has been asked to present a report in the Senate within 10 days. The committee`s terms of reference will be finalised by the law minister in consultation with leaders of the house and opposition in the Senate.
The committee was formed by deputy chairman of the Senate after journalists staged a walkout from the press gallery in protest against the alleged torture of Jamal Tarakai, a Quetta-based cameraman who had produced before the inquiry commission investigating the foreigners` killing footage showing a victim raising her hand thrice.
Senators Gul Mohammad Lot and Azam Khan Swati, after convincing media personnel to end their boycott, raised the issue in the house forcefully and pointed out that the cameraman had been tortured less than a week after the Senate chairman`s ruling on providing protection to journalists who had exposed the cold-blooded killings of the five foreigners near Quetta and a young man in Karachi.
The house was informed that the doctor who had performed post-mortem of the victims of Kharotabad incident was also picked up and tortured.
Leader of the House Nayyar Hussain Bokhari said it was a criminal act to destroy evidence and nobody would be allowed to do so. He said he had already asked Sindh`s chief secretary to take action against those making threatening calls to media personnel who had exposed Sarfaraz Shah`s killing by Rangers` personnel in Karachi. He said he would again talk to chief secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan.
The opposition also staged a token walkout from the house as a mark of protest against coercion and intimidation of journalists and excesses of law-enforcement agencies.
Several members of the house observed that violence against Jamal Tarakai was not only a violation of the ruling of the Senate chairman but also a negation of Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the Constitution. OPEN LETTER:
Former federal minister Mian Raza Rabbani read out a letter to the people, proposing a roadmap for an integrated response to the menace of terrorism, observing that the state and its constitutional structure had been rendered helpless by terrorists.
“The agents of terror are operating under a philosophy and thesis and this requires a counter-narrative as military action alone will not suffice,” Mr Rabbani said.
He called for initiating a national debate with a view to forming a strategy to combat internal and external terrorism. He stressed that Pakistan`s national interests should be clearly identified, rules of engagement with international forces in conflict on terror should be stated, the concept of parliamentary accountability should be introduced and concrete steps should be taken to shun the impression of a clash between state institutions.
Mr Rabbani said the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, should be amended particularly with regards to the affected areas, adding that internal and external terrorist groups should be identified and must not be allowed to use Pakistan`s soil for the support of terrorism.
He said a ban on proscribed organisations should be strictly implemented and a cell should be established at the federal level to coordinate information between ISI, MI, IB and the provincial police.