ISLAMABAD, Sep 3: An interesting situation emerged in the Senate on Monday when a resolution moved by Presidency’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar was opposed not only by the leader of the opposition but also by the minister of state for foreign affairs.
The resolution calling upon the government to sign and ratify the international convention to protect citizens from enforced disappearances moved by Mr Babar was to be taken up for consideration by the house but it had to be deferred after both sides of the aisle expressed reservations over its implications.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Ammad Khan said many champions of human rights had also not ratified the convention. He noted that such conventions with a wide scope sometimes served as a double-edged weapon. “We should not be binding ourselves to something which might be damaging,” he remarked. He suggested an inter-ministerial process to discuss the matter with all stakeholders.
He said the UN Working Group on enforced disappearances would be visiting Pakistan from Sept 10.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokar said there were reservations about two articles of the convention – the one that declares enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity and the other which held the perpetrators criminally responsible. He did not say who voiced reservations, but said the convention could also be ratified with reservations. “In principle, my ministry has no objection to it,” he said.
Leader of Opposition Ishaq Dar said he wondered why the presidency’s spokesman, minister of state for foreign affairs and adviser on human rights were not on the same page. He opposed the resolution and said: “Do you want the ISI director general to be tried by the International Court of Justice”.
The chairman deferred the resolution, asking the mover to talk to the minister of state for foreign affairs and adviser on human rights. He did not refer the matter to the standing committee concerned as suggested by some senators.
The house will start discussion on Tuesday on the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products and gas, while Thursday and Friday will be dedicated to law and order, including target killings and other forms of violence and terrorism haunting almost all provinces.
Speaking on points of order, the senators called for finding out a permanent solution to the law and order problem after a thorough debate. They were of the view that all political parties should reach a consensus on a strategy to turn Pakistan into a peaceful country.
The house will meet again on Tuesday.