• Rabbani protests non-inclusion of terrorism issue in joint session’s agenda
• Lawmakers pass resolution on Kashmir after brief debate
ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday said it was ready to hold a parliamentary debate regarding a rise in terrorism across the country, after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, during a joint sitting of parliament, forcefully protested the non-inclusion of the issue in the agenda.
The lawmakers also unanimously passed a resolution on Kashmir after delivering rhetorical speeches during the lacklustre proceedings.
Responding to Mr Rabbani, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would himself give a briefing to parliament and apprise the lawmakers on the prevailing security situation in the country. The government has no intention to prorogue the joint sitting which would continue into the next week, he added.
Interestingly, the law minister claimed that the government had included the debate on terrorism in the agenda but “perhaps it was left out due to some printing issue”. Mr Tarar told the house that the prime minister wanted to be present in the house for the debate, but he failed to explain the reason for Mr Sharif’s absence.
It may be recalled that the prime minister was scheduled to depart for Turkiye on Wednesday to express solidarity with the Turkish people after the devastating earthquake. However, he did not proceed to Turkiye and an impression was given that the prime minister had postponed his trip to attend the joint sitting. Mr Sharif, however, spent the entire day in Lahore while meeting his party leaders and members.
‘No mention of terrorism in agenda’
Taking the floor after the passage of the Kashmir resolution, Mr Rabbani drew the attention of Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf towards the agenda and regretted that it did not include the debate on the terrorism issue despite repeated demands from the Senate.
“Today Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) is bleeding …. Terrorism is rising all over the country, especially in KP, but there is no mention of terrorism in the agenda,” rued Mr Rabbani, while lashing out at the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s policy pertaining to militancy.
“The previous government initiated negotiations with the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) but did not take parliament into confidence. After that, it [the government] talked about their [militants’] rehabilitation and again parliament was not taken into confidence. Now the dangerous and serious consequences are before us, and terrorism is once again growing in the country,” Mr Rabbani added.
The PPP senator demanded that all stakeholders, including the military leadership, should be asked to give their viewpoint on the current spate of terrorism in the country.
“They [military people] are necessary stakeholders in this entire process. Therefore, it is the right of parliament and through it the people of Pakistan to be aware of what steps and what policies have been taken,” he said.
Mr Rabbani, who had previously served as the Senate chairman, also regretted that despite getting bail in all cases, South Waziristan MNA Ali Wazir had neither been released from jail nor the speaker had issued his production orders to attend the session.
Later, the lawmakers approved the controversial Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2022 with a crucial amendment, abolishing the provision of direct elections for the seats of the capital mayor and deputy mayor.
‘Resolution on Kashmir’
Earlier, the lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day which was observed on Feb 5. Through the resolution, read out by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi on behalf of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the house expressed “solidarity with the oppressed people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in their just struggle for the right to self-determination” and reiterated Pakistan’s unwavering support to the Kashmir cause.
The parliament also condemned the ongoing human rights violations in held-Kashmir as well as belligerent statements of the Indian political leaders and military officers regarding Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
It demanded that India must rescind its illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, and subsequent measures and earnestly implement the relevant UNSC resolutions to enable the Kashmiri people to determine their future through the democratic method of a fair and impartial plebiscite.
The brief debate on the resolution was opened by Opposition Leader Raja Riaz. Most of the speakers lashed out at the PTI for its Kashmir policy, accusing the former government of surrendering and handing over Kashmir to India. The speaker later adjourned the joint sitting till Feb 13.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023
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