ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal told the Senate on Thursday the government had reacted strongly over the ongoing “Free Karachi” campaign in Washington, but the US laws did not provide it any forum to challenge such acts.
The minister, while responding on behalf of Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif to a calling-attention notice about the media campaign on US soil, said Islamabad had taken up the issue with Washington but “the situation is that under the cover of free speech and other such factors they have not really responded to us”.
Moreover, the minister said, “perpetrators of this game had acted very smartly” as they had written the words “Free Karachi and Free Balochistan” in big letters whereas in fine print below they had written the words “from atrocities and human rights violations”.
“So if you take them to court or to the State Department under the available laws, the whole text does not qualify” for any legal action and “the American laws do not provide us any legal forum where we can ask for implementation of certain laws and regulations”, he said.
PPP leader requests Senate chairman to announce his ruling on trichotomy of powers
“We know it is all India-sponsored and they are paying $3,000 per cab to put up such banners,” said Mr Afzal, adding that the US system only allowed them to react in the same manner.
So the Pakistani community had come forward and launched the “Free Kashmir” and “Free Khalistan” campaigns there.
Previously anti-Pakistan campaigns had been launched in Switzerland and the UK and the Pakistan government had effectively taken up the issue with the governments of the two European countries.
Giving a policy statement on the US move, launched with the help of some European countries, to place Pakistan on the global terrorist-financing list, the finance minister said the government was “aggressively contesting” the move “which we feel is politically motivated”.
Mr Afzal said that Pakistan had done more than any other country to curb money laundering.
Meanwhile, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar urged Senate chairman Raza Rabbani to announce his ruling on the issue of trichotomy of powers that he had reserved after a comprehensive debate in which the members had expressed their apprehension over the shifting of power balance away from the elected parliament.
“Power is continuously shifting away from civilian structures of the state as invisible forces are relentlessly busy in rewriting the political and parliamentary narrative and it is critical that an appropriate ruling is announced to put on notice these elements ahead of the forthcoming Senate elections,” Mr Babar said while speaking on an issue of public importance.
Mr Rabbani said he had almost finalised his ruling and would announce it soon.
Earlier, responding to another calling attention notice on the halting of PIA’s flight operation to Kuwait and Oman, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed admitted that there had been no improvement in the financial position of the PIA.
He said the routes had been closed as the losses of the national flag carrier had increased manifold.
The PPP’s Sherry Rehman, who had raised the matter, said air traffic had swelled 40 per cent over the past five years to 20 million passengers and “it is shocking and disturbing to see PIA halting international flight routes.”
WALKOUT: The opposition members staged a token walkout to lodge their protest over the government’s decision to increase the prices of petroleum products.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2018