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‘Free Balochistan’ posters: Senate suspends Pak-Swiss friendship group

Updated September 22, 2017

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A bus in Rue de Ferney of Grand Sacconex with the "Free Baluchistan" poster on it. —DawnNews
A bus in Rue de Ferney of Grand Sacconex with the "Free Baluchistan" poster on it. —DawnNews

ISLAMABAD: A day after Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani called for the expulsion of the ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan, the Senate suspended its Pakistan-Switzerland friendship group for an indefinite period.

The decision was announced by Mr Rabbani during the proceedings on Thursday as the controversy over an alleged anti-Pakistan campaign, run by the proscribed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), continued to simmer.

Mr Rabbani said that he had spoken to the convener of the Pakistan-Switzerland friendship group and he had supported the idea of suspending the group indefinitely.

Upper house of parliament echoes with protest over ‘anti-Pakistan campaign’ in Switzerland

He regretted that the Swiss government had not come up with a reasonable response to the use of its soil by a terrorist outfit for its poster campaign. He said new posters from the BLA had surfaced in Switzerland.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid was of the view that Pakistan’s ambassador to Switzerland should be recalled. “Such behaviour by a so-called civilised country is unacceptable,” he remarked.

Senator Nauman Wazir of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf observed that the Swiss authorities’ actions were a matter of concern.

Senator Sirajul Haq of the Jamaat-i-Islami said that Swiss soil was regularly being used for propaganda against Pakistan. He said this went against the sovereignty of the country, and lamented that the government was not fulfilling its responsibility.

FSPC reforms

The Senate chairman also announced the formation of an eight-member special committee of the house that would be tasked with preparing a set of recommendations to reform the Federal Public Service Commission (FSPC). The decision was announced at the conclusion of the Senate’s discussion on the FPSC’s annual report which had been brought to the House on Aug 23. The proposal for the formation of a committee was made by Mr Syed and endorsed by other senators.

Mr Rabbani said the composition of the committee would be decided in consultation with the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition. He said there would be four members each from the treasury and opposition benches in the committee.

Retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum noted that the selection criterion needed to be reformed. He said it was not enough to merely judge candidates on their academic qualifications.

Senator Shibli Faraz stressed the need for addressing flaws in the selection process, and suggested that the obsolete interview procedure should be changed. He agreed that mere academic brilliance should not be considered a yardstick, and other qualities, including character, ethics and aptitude, should also be taken into account.

Senator Sirajul Haq said the relationship between the bureaucracy and the masses should not be that of a master and slaves.

Senator Mohsin Leghari said he was impressed with the quality of the printing and paper of the report, but was shocked at the content. Raising questions over the entire system of selection for civil services, he said that “when crammers come in, governance starts to fail”.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2017

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