ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Senate staged a walkout to protest against the government’s failure to brief the upper house of parliament about the alleged jailbreak plan made to free Dr Shakeel Afridi — the man who helped America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) track down Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had requested the interior and foreign ministers to present their reports on the matter in the Senate. The Senate had sought clarification regarding reports which suggested that Mr Afridi had been moved from a prison in Peshawar to the Adiala jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, following an abortive attempt by the CIA to retrieve Mr Afridi.
Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani informed Mr Sanjrani on Monday that he had asked the two ministers to appear before the house. However, Mr Sanjrani said it would take a few days for them to submit their responses, and pointed out that the interior minister had been attacked the other day. Mr Rabbani responded saying he had also summoned the foreign minister, and added that any minister could have provided an explanation.
Regretting that no minister was ready to take responsibility to speak on the issue of Mr Afridi, the former Senate chairman announced a walkout, which members of other opposition parties also joined.
She pointed out that there were 60 ministers in the cabinet even though the law allowed 11 per cent of the total strength of parliament to be appointed as ministers. “My mathematics may be weak, but according to my calculations, the permissible strength comes to 49,” she remarked.
Terming the constitution of the cabinet illegal, Ms Rehman observed that anyone could take the matter to court, and urged the government to trim the cabinet to a lawful size. “Those who talk about sanctity of ballot should also respect the law,” she said.
Earlier, during the budget discussion, Senator Shibli Faraz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf called for structural and deep-rooted reform and framing of a strategic policy framework to steer the country out of the debt trap. He said the government continued to use loans as the sole means of meeting the fiscal deficit. He referred to a famous quote of scientist Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
He was of the view that there was a need to increase the scope of exports, which was currently confined to three items, with textile products at the top. He said around two decades ago, the country’s exports were equal to that of Vietnam’s. He said 20 years later, revenue from Vietnam’s exports had risen to $216 billion, while Pakistan’s exports staggered between $15bn and $25bn.
He criticised the government’s amnesty scheme for facilitating those who had amassed wealth through unfair means, while discouraging genuine tax payers.
The Senate also unanimously adopted resolution condemning the repression of citizens in India-Occupied Kashmir, and called on the international community to end its indifference to the plight of the people of Kashmir. The atrocities committed by the Indian security forces include enforced disappearances, use of human shields, staged encounters, rapes, live ammunition, illegal searches and seizure, and use of pellet guns.
The House noted that Indian forces continued to murder, maim and injure Kashmiri citizens every day.
The Senate reiterated that the government, elected representatives and the people of Pakistan were in complete solidarity with their Kashmiri brothers and sisters suffering Indian occupation, and asked the government to appoint a special envoy for Kashmir, as per an earlier resolution passed by the house.
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily