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Senate asks Ahsan Iqbal for statement on security threat

Updated September 14, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Raza Rabbani has sought a policy statement from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the Senate on Friday regarding a disclosure by his predecessor, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, about an alleged threat to the country’s security.

During the course of the Senate proceedings on Wednesday, Mr Rabbani referred to the matter raised in the house a day earlier by Leader of the Opposition Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.

He said according to the former interior minister, only four people in Pakistan were aware of the alleged serious threat — they did not include the incumbent prime minister.

While winding up a discussion on an adjournment motion regarding the disappearance of a former army officer, retired Col Habib, from Nepal allegedly by Indian forces, Law Minister Zahid Hamid informed the house that India had expressed its inability to do anything about the ‘abduction’, saying that the incident had taken place in Nepal.

He said the matter had been raised with India and their response, expressing their inability to help, had been received on May 22 and June 13. He said retired Col Habib had gone missing in Lumbini, Nepal, bordering India. Retired Col Habib had been apparently offered a job via a United Kingdom telephone number, which was found to be a fake and had, in fact, been routed through a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) facility.

The fake company — digirock — had used a bogus website, which has now been taken down, to lure the former army officer to Nepal, Mr Hamid said. The website was being operated from India, he added. The law minister said that retired Col Habib had been received at the airport in Nepal by an Indian national, while the hotel and ticket reservation had also been made by Indians — the names of whom were available with him.

Separately, while discussing an admitted adjournment motion, Senators voiced concern over growing military cooperation between the United States and India.

Senator retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said the arms race would have to stop if there was to be peace in South Asia. He said 60 to 70 per cent of mechanised weapons owned by India were meant to be used against Pakistani forces.

Condemning the death and destruction in held Kashmir, he said the road to peace in South Asia passed through Srinagar.

Mr Rabbani said that the United States should know that Pakistan would not allow India to police the region.

Senator Javed Abbasi of the PML-N noted that the friendship between two “extremists” — US President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi — would not bode well for the region. He said Mr Modi’s hands were stained with the blood of religious minorities in India. He recalled the time when the US had refused Mr Modi a visa.

Senator Rehman Malik of the Pakistan Peoples Party termed the growing military cooperation between the US and India, a conspiracy against Pakistan and China.

While winding up the discussion on behalf of the foreign minister, Mr Hamid said that the US was selling India 22 guardian drones, while the US State Department had also approved the sale of C-17 Globemaster military aircraft to India.

He termed India’s weapons shopping spree a threat to regional stability, and added that the security operations carried out by Pakistan’s armed forces had achieved significant success in eliminating terrorists. He said Pakistan was determined to completely eliminate the menace from its soil. “We expected the international community to unequivocally stand by us in this fight. We strongly rebutted India’s claims of cross-border terrorism and, in fact, highlighted India’s support for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and [use of] proxies against Pakistan from its territory,” he stressed.

Pakistan was concerned over the sale of advanced military technologies to India, said, and added: “We also pointed out that this would be detrimental to the military balance in the region and will undermine strategic balance in South Asia. All of this was conveyed to the chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Committee, Senator McCain, and also the accompanying delegation during the senator’s visit to Pakistan on July 2.” He said that Pakistan was committed to solving all outstanding issues with India including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir through comprehensive and result-oriented dialogue.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2017