PPP lawmaker Naveed Qamar on Tuesday raised the matter of the arrest of MNA Ali Wazir in the National Assembly, saying that according to the rules, the speaker should have been intimated of the latter's detention.
Wazir was arrested on Sunday after a clash between Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement activists and Army troops at a checkpost in North Waziristan in which three people were killed and 15 others injured ─ including five soldiers.
During a sitting of the lower house today, Qamar read out Rule 103 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in NA, 2007, according to which the speaker must be informed if a member of parliament is arrested. The speaker should then inform the members of parliament about the development, according to Rule 105. Qamar said that National Assembly members had come to know about Wazir's arrest through the media instead of being informed by the speaker as per procedure.
Rule 103 reads: When a member is arrested on a criminal charge or for a criminal offence or is sentenced to imprisonment by a court of law or is detained under an executive order, the committing judge, magistrate or executive authority, as the case may be, shall immediately intimate such fact to the Speaker indicating the reasons for the arrest, detention or conviction, as the case may be, as also the place of detention or imprisonment of the member in the appropriate form set out in the Fourth Schedule.
The speaker should then "read it out in the Assembly if in session or, if the Assembly is not in session, direct that it may be circulated for the information of the members", according to Rule 105.
It was not immediately clear whether the speaker had been informed of Wazir's arrest or not. Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who presided over today's session, directed Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan to look into the matter.
At a party meeting on Tuesday, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari demanded of the NA speaker to issue the production orders for Wazir.
"An honourable member of parliament has been charged with terrorism and incarcerated on highly questionable grounds and the speaker not taking notice is most disturbing," Bilawal was quoted as saying at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Senator Raza Rabbani, who also belongs to the PPP, issued a press release today regarding the Waziristan clash, insisting that the state should enter into political dialogue to address the "grievances of its (Pakistan's) nationalities".
The senator recommended that "the Special Committee of the Senate, which is seized of the issue of the PTM, should intensify its dialogue".
He further said: "Committee of the Whole of the Senate of Pakistan should be summoned and all relevant stakeholders be invited for a dialogue to address the issues."
Rabbani said that India had "designs to destabilise [Pakistan] and become the policeman of the region", and that India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and other intelligence were operating in Pakistan.
He also drew attention towards the brewing tensions between Iran and the United States due to which, he said, "Pakistan was in a nutcracker". He wondered what effects the US-Taliban peace talks might have on the region.
Highlighting Pakistan's economic challenges, Rabbani said that the country's "surrender of its economic sovereignty to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has raised grave concerns as to the leverage these international agencies will have in the hybrid war in influencing Pakistan, decisions with reference to its national security and strategic interests".
"In the light of the existing realities and the haunting lessons of Pakistan's history, it is essential that the state realises and addresses through political dialogue the grievances of its nationalities," he said.
'Zero tolerance' for those who disrespect Pakistani flag: Awan
The issue of PTM was apparently also discussed during a meeting of the federal cabinet today, with Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan saying at a news conference that some people "playing into the hands of foreign players" had attempted to use the residents of tribal areas for their political objectives.
She said it was recognised in the meeting that the people of tribal areas had given countless sacrifices for the restoration of peace in the region. "They suffered difficulties, faced many problems, laid down their lives, but some extremist individuals who cannot stand the idea of the area prospering put its return to peace at risk," Awan said.
"After eliminating terrorism from the region, the prime minister embraced the tribal people and took the initiative of putting balm on their wounds and decided to grant more than Rs102 billion by way of developmental schemes to the people of Fata and brought them into the mainstream political process.
"And the no go areas where the writ of the state was challenged, new doors of prosperity were opened there."
She spoke of a "conspiracy" to create hurdles in the government efforts, saying the cabinet had expressed its reservations over "the way some people by playing into the hands of foreign players attempted to use the innocent people of tribal areas as fuel for their politics".
The cabinet also expressed the resolve of the federal government, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the people of Pakistan to stand shoulder to shoulder with the residents of tribal areas in order to safeguard their rights and lives.
"The proof of this is that the prime minister had instructed all provinces to give 3 per cent additional fund from their NFC award so we may bridge the gap where the [tribal] region lags behind," the SAPM said.
She reiterated the government's resolve to have "zero tolerance for those who disrespect the Pakistani flag and those who put at risk Pakistan's identity, pride and national security".
With additional reporting by Nadir Guramani in Islamabad.