ISLAMABAD: Dispelling the impression created by Law Minister Farogh Naseem that the centre is considering taking over Karachi’s administrative affairs, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday assured the National Assembly that the federal government had no intention to enforce Article 149 of the constitution in the city.

The foreign minister also refuted the impression that the government had accepted the Indian government stance on India-held Kashmir and held the opposition parties responsible for what he said damaging the cause of Kashmir by lodging protest in the parliament over non-issuance of production orders.

The opposition lawmakers threatened the government that they would move the Supreme Court over non-issuance of production orders of the detained legislators belonging to the opposition parties and over the alleged plan to remove the chief election commissioner who had refused to administer the oath to the two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan ‘illegally’ appointed by the government.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, FM Qureshi asked the opposition to lodge their protest with the NA Speaker and move the SC, but said their protest during President Arif Alvi’s address to the joint sitting of the parliament gave the impression that the issuance of production orders was more important than Kashmir. “The protest during the president’s speech gave an impression that the issue of production orders was given preference to the Kashmir issue, which is in world focus,” he said.

Says opposition’s protest in parliament over non-production of lawmakers hurt Kashmir cause

On the law minister’s statement about taking over Karachi’s administrative affairs through the constitutional provision, Mr Qureshi said: “The centre has no intention of wrapping up the provincial government of Sindh.” He said nobody should fear as Sindh was an important unit of the federation and the country. “I am giving a policy statement on behalf of the government that we have no intention of confronting the Sindh government for no reason. We have respected the Constitution in the past, we respect it now, and will continue to do so,” he added.

He told the house that the law minister had also clarified his remarks on Article 149 in Karachi. “Dr Naseem has said his remarks on the matter are being distorted and misrepresented,” he said.

Article 149(4) reads: “The executive authority of the federation shall also extend to the giving of directions to a province as to the manner in which the executive authority thereof is to be exercised for the purpose of preventing any grave menace to the peace or tranquility or economic life of Pakistan or any part thereof.”

Mr Qureshi said the government had no intention of subjugating the independence of Sindh. He said: “We know it is a start of Bilawal’s political career and we have no doubt about his patriotism, but it does not suit him to talk about Sindhu Desh, Pakhtunistan and Seraikistan.”

“I am hopeful that every Sindhi will support Pakistan and all such slogans will be defeated,” the federal minister added.

Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party leader Syed Khursheed Shah said Sindhis had played a vital role in the creation of Pakistan as the resolution for a separate Muslim state was first passed by Sindh Assembly and in East Pakistan.

He said no one in the parliament should pass such remarks that would weaken the federation amid tense situation due to fresh spate of aggression and tyranny of India on innocent Kashmiris. “The enemy is looking for a chance to take advantage of any weakness if we show on the basis of cast and lingualism,” he added.

Talking about the Kashmir issue, the foreign minister said he had been asked for clarification on the impression that the government had accepted India’s point of view on Kashmir. He said he would present in the assembly the letters he had written to the international community on the matter to address the concerns.

Mr Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan would also raise the Kashmir issue before the UN Human Rights Council on Sept 27.

Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif said the opposition would move the SC over non-issuance of production orders and the government ‘attempt’ to remove Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Mohammad Raza.

In the presence of two separate judgements of the apex court, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had no need to refer the matter related to production orders to the law ministry, he said.

Speaker Qaiser asked Mr Asif to submit the SC judgement in his office so that he could take decisions in the light of the judgement.

Criticising the government over economic situation, the PML-N lawmaker said even when the so-called corruption had been ended, the situation was worsening.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2019