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KP govt agrees on in-camera PA briefing about police officer’s killing

Updated December 19, 2018

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Opposition wants those responsible for the murder of SP Tahir Dawar identified. — File photo
Opposition wants those responsible for the murder of SP Tahir Dawar identified. — File photo

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has agreed to hold an in-camera briefing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on the recent mysterious abduction and killing of provincial police officer Tahir Dawar.

It, however, didn’t announce date for the purpose.

SP Dawar, who belonged to North Waziristan tribal district, was kidnapped in Islamabad on Oct 26 and was found tortured to death in Afghanistan on Nov 13 prompting his family and rights activists to call for investigation.

During the assembly sitting chaired by Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani here on Tuesday, an adjournment motion tabled by Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak on the matter was admitted for discussion.

Law and parliamentary affairs minister Sultan Mohammad Khan assured the chair of arranging a briefing on the matter to be attended by parliamentary leaders.

The motion, which was admitted for discussion last week, had come under debate on the floor of the house on Monday.

When the chair had given the floor to Mr Babak, the treasury members left the house to cause a lack of quorum and thus, leading to the sitting’s adjournment.

When the proceedings resumed on Tuesday, Mr Babak took the floor on a point of order to continue debate on his motion. He said the treasury members intentionally left the house to block debate on that important issue.

The ANP leader said martyred police officer Tahir Dawar was a Pakhtun citizen but the government did not take interest in probing his killing.

He asked the government to identify the people involved in the killing.

Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan said the government was ready to arrange an in-camera briefing for lawmakers on the matter.

Opposition wants culprits identified; walkout staged against bill on Pata

The joint opposition and ruling party lawmakers from Malakand division opposed the passage of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Provincially Administered Tribal Area (Pata) Bill, 2018, forcing the government to defer the bill.

The opposition expressed reservations about the bill and staged a walkout.

The government had introduced the bill on Dec 12 to give legal protection to all laws and regulations, including Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011 in the erstwhile Pata, which was merged with the province around six months ago.

Mr Babak opposed the bill when the house took it up for consideration.

He apprehended that the government might extend the federal and provincial taxes after the omission of Article 247 from the Constitution and merger of the area with the province.

The ANP leader said before 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the government had made commitment that Malakand would enjoy exemption from federal and provincial taxes for five years after its merger with KP and that it might be extended.

He asked the government to mention tax exemption in the bill.

People of seven districts of Malakand and Torghar in Hazara division have been enjoying complete tax exemption.

Mr Babak said the government had planned to extend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Regulatory Authority’s jurisdiction to former Pata, which would be unacceptable to the local residents.

Other members of the opposition also seconded Mr Babak’s point and staged a walkout. Finance minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said the government couldn’t function without taxes.

He said Tank was the most underdeveloped district, where the people paid federal and provincial taxes, but the developed districts of Malakand had been given exemption.

Ministers Sultan Mohammad and Taimur Jhagra went to the opposition’s lobby to bring members back to the house.

In the meantime, 17 MPAs of the PTI from Malakand division, including information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, also supported the opposition’s stand, which troubled the treasury.

The deadlock between the opposition and government resulted in the deferment of the bill.

The controversial Billion Tree Tsunami, the flagship project of the last PTI government, once again came under discussion during question hour.

The government claimed that 1.2 billion saplings had been planted under the project, which received global acclamation.

ANP lawmaker Shagufta Malik moved the question and challenged the government’s claims about the plantation of one billion saplings in its last five years tenure.

She said the government was exaggerating figures.

Ms Shagufta claimed that 80 per cent of the total saplings planted during the drive didn’t survive. Minister Sultan Mohammad contradicted her statement and claimed that the sapling survival rate was 80 per cent.

He said the independent body like World Wildlife Fund had conducted a third party validation of the afforestation project and reported 88 per cent survival rate of the saplings.

The minister said the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Pakistan) had also made satellite images of the areas, where plantation was undertaken under the project.

He said another third party validation of the project was in progress.

Through a supplementary question, opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani said the government’s claims about the success of the Billion Tree Tsunami project were false as the National Accountability Bureau had begun probe into the project.

He proposed the formation of a special parliamentary committee to visit the sites, where afforestation was carried out.

The speaker ordered the formation of a committee consisting of the treasury and opposition members to look into the project.

The house passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

The sitting was later adjourned until Friday.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018