ISLAMABAD: Members of the Senate on Wednesday welcomed the planned peace talks between the US and Afghan Taliban in Qatar but wondered whether Pakistan, which is deeply affected by the Afghan conflict, would have any role in it.
Describing the opening of a Taliban office in Doha as a significant development, the members belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) asked the PML-N government to tell the parliament whether Pakistan was consulted before initiation of the peace process.
Speaking on a point of order, PML-Q Senator and Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence Mushahid Hussain Sayed drew the attention of the house towards the media reports stating that the US and the Taliban had agreed to hold talks on finding a political solution for ending nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan after opening of the militant group’s office in Qatar. Terming it a good development, he said he wanted to learn about the Pakistan government’s stance on the issue.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F said the government should explain whether Pakistan was consulted on the matter and how the peace process in Afghanistan would now move forward. The JUI-F senator said Pakistan’s problems of law and order were linked to the situation in Afghanistan.
PPP’s Kazim Khan called for formal inclusion of Pakistan in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan.
Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq assured the members that Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz would soon brief the house on the matter.
Mr Haq said there was a time when nobody wanted to open dialogue with the Taliban but now the atmosphere had changed and opening of its office in Qatar was an important development.
Meanwhile, Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP drew the attention of the house to the reports that a serving military officer was being appointed as director general (DG) Military Lands and Cantonments (MLC) Department and called for rejecting the summary reportedly moved in this regard.
Mr Babar said that under the administrative reforms of 1973, all posts in the MLC Department were to be filled through a nationwide competitive examination held by the FPSC and the post of the DG was to be filled in by promotion from among officers of the group.
However, he said, former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in contravention of the law and rules appointed serving military officers to the post and the practice still continued. The land user had now become its regulator on behalf of the federal government which was wrong, he added, pleading that serving military officers not be appointed to the post.
Abdul Nabi Bangash of the ANP while taking part in the debate on the federal budget expressed his concern over non-allocation of money for the Pakistan-Iran Gas Project.
The Senate passed a resolution “condemning” the incidents of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and urging the provincial government to take steps to improve law and order situation. The senators also expressed sympathies with the bereaved families of the victims of terrorist act in Mardan.
ANP’s Haji Adeel objected to the “unnecessary security” at the entrance to the Parliament House and questioned the logic of providing so much security to PTI chairman Imran Khan who had come to the National Assembly for the first time on Wednesday morning after the May 11 elections.
The leader of the house said that since Mr Khan was attending his first session of the assembly and also suffering a back injury special arrangements were made to give him proper care.