MNAs term Bajaur suicide attack an ‘intelligence failure’

Published August 1, 2023
Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah speaks during a session of the National Assembly on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah speaks during a session of the National Assembly on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in the National Assembly on Monday condemned the suicide blast at a political gathering in Bajaur, terming it a “complete failure” of Pakistan’s over two dozen intelligence agencies and an outcome of the “unclear Afghan policy” of successive governments.

After having a brief debate on Sunday’s bombing at a JUI-F convention claiming over 50 lives, the lawmakers passed seven legislations, including the controversial bill seeking to amend the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

Besides questioning the role of intelligence agencies in preventing terrorist attacks, they expressed concern over a surge in such incidents at a time when the country was about to enter the election phase.

The members also questioned huge budgetary allocations for intelligence agencies in the wake of the Bajaur incident, stating that local administration had not been warned about any such attack.

Minister calls for exposing those who held talks with TTP; outgoing NA passes seven more bills

“If we can’t say this in parliament then where can we say this? This [the Bajaur incident] was a complete intelligence failure,” said Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah, who belongs to PPP.

“Pakistan has not been able to come out of the quagmire in which it was pushed into in 1981 despite paying a heavy price,” said Mr Shah in an apparent reference to the policy of Afghan jihad launched by the then dictator Gen Zia after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan was reeling under terrorism because of the “wrong decisions” of the past and “undemocratic mindset” prevailing in society.

JUI-F leader and Communications Minister Asad Mehmood termed the Bajaur incident an attack on Pakistan, its economy and democracy.

“A new government has come in Afghanistan, but Pakistan has not yet made any decision. [We don’t know] what to do with TTP [the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan] and other forces which are interfering in the country,” said Mr Mehmood.

Without elaborating, he said “responsible people” had told them that they were holding talks with Taliban and within a month the banned TTP started carrying attacks and then “we were informed that the talks have failed”.

“Who are those who held talks and then these people [TTP men] returned, and then they announced that talks had failed?” asked the JUI-F leader.

“Who taught terror skills to those who are being linked to terrorism? Who taught them how a suicide jacket is made? Who taught them bomb-making?” the JUI-F leader kept on putting questions. Mr Mehmood said they would soon convene a meeting of PDM to discuss the situation.

Jamaat-i-Islami’s Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali said there were reportedly 25 intelligence agencies operating in the country, but they did not provide any prior information about the attack. “We pay taxes and it is the responsibility of the government to protect our lives, honour and property,” he said.

PTI dissident Riaz Mazari said that those who received dollars in the name of Afghan jihad and Islam must be questioned and held accountable for growing terrorism in the country.

Legislation

The house passed seven bills, including the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Defence Housing Auth­ority Islamabad (Amendment) Bill 2023.

Responding to criticism over the amendments made in the army act, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar claimed that the law would not be applicable to civilians and it was aimed at keeping the army away from political issues.

The minister also explained the embarrassing situation faced by the government in the Senate on Sunday when the Senate chairman dropped a crucial bill aimed at curbing violent extremism after its opposition from all sides. He said the government had no intention to get the bill passed, stating that it came to the agenda as part of the leftover legislation of the previous PTI government.

The other bills passed on Monday are the Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill, 2023; the National Commission for Human Development (Amendment) Bill, 2023; the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology, Islamabad (Amendment) Bill, 2023; the Canton­m­e­nts (Amendment) Bill, 2023; and the Boa­rd of Investment (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The house will meet again on Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2023

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