ISLAMABAD: The controversy over the arrest of PML-N leader retired Capt Mohammad Safdar and ‘kidnapping’ of the inspector general of Sindh police echoed in the Senate on Thursday with members from both sides of the aisle accusing each other of violating the law and the Constitution.

While the opposition said the arrest of retired Captain Safdar after breaking into his room was in violation of the constitutional provisions, the government side insisted that chanting slogans at the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum was against Mazar-i-Quaid’s Protection and Maintenance Ordinance promulgated by late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government in the past.

The discussion started after Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq moved a resolution seeking formation of a house committee to investigate the entire saga of kidnapping of Sindh IG and arrest of Capt Safdar.

The matter was finally referred by the chair to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

Members from opposition and treasury benches accuse each other of violating law

Opening the debate, PPP parliamentary leader in Senate Sherry Rehman said that Senate was the house representing the federation and it was important that it played its role and formed a panel for an inquiry into the kidnapping incident.

She said that it was a big incident affecting relationship between the provinces and the Centre. She said that an IG was abducted and made to sign an FIR under duress, which led to additional IGs, SPs and DIGs seeking leaves in protest against the incident. “They all want to see results of the investigation,” she remarked.

“This is all out there in the open with several TV channels showing federal ministers openly threatening police officers to lodge the FIR. What happened to PTI’s tall claims of not misusing its authority? How can a Grade-22 officer be coerced to sign such FIRs? ” she asked.

Opposing the resolution, Minister for Information Shibli Faraz said that the opposition, instead of focusing on the ‘crime’, was more interested in ‘who did what’, subsequently. He said the opposition parties were giving the incident a political touch and creating confusion.

He was of the view that violation of sanctity of the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan by chanting slogans there should have been condemned, but the opposition was trying to distract people’s attention from the ‘crime’.

“Why the prime minister should have telephoned [to Sindh chief minister],” he posed a question.

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) rejected the inquiry being conducted on the orders of the army chief, saying it could not be impartial.

“How can the one committing a crime be made a judge,?” he asked.

The JUI-F leader said that chanting slogans of ‘give respect to vote’ at the mausoleum was not a crime.

Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem opposed the resolution, saying two inquiry committees had already been constituted — one by the COAS and the other by the Sindh government.

“We should wait for the outcome of these inquiries,” he said, adding that the sanctity of the mausoleum was violated and a complaint was lodged as police are under the Sindh government.

He suggested that findings of the ongoing inquiries should come first and then the house should take up the issue.

Treasury Senator Waleed Iqbal observed that the opposition was focusing more on the ‘effects’ while ignoring the causes which led to it.

PML-N parliamentary leader in the Senate Mushahidullah Khan said that those who had the history of chanting slogans at Khana-i-Kaaba have no right to talk about the sanctity of Quaid’s mausoleum.

The house was adjourned to meet again on Friday at 10.30am after quorum was pointed out and the house was found not in order.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2020

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