ISLAMABAD - An opposition Senator Monday proposed giving the portfolio of defence minister to PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq to bridge the gulf between the army and the civilian government. However, Raja, who is also the Leader of the House in the Senate, outrightly rejected the proposal.
“I recommend the PM to appoint Raja Zafarul Haq as defence minister, if he were the minister, there might not be any rift between the government and the army," said Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed of PML-Q. But, Raja rejected the proposal saying that incumbent minister Khawaja Asif was efficient and experienced and doing his duties within the ambit of law.
Mushahid Hussain also presented Pakistan's first ever bill on Cyber Security in the House named as the National Cyber Security Council Bill-2014. The bill was referred to relevant standing committee. The bill, seeking establishment of a 'National Cyber Security Council, aims at developing and drafting policy guidelines and governance models related to ever emerging cyber security threat, which the senator termed as one of the major non-traditional non-military threats the country was facing.
The cyber security bill said there was strong need to monitor legislation and provide advice and recommendations as per international best practices. Another bill, the Financial Institutions (Recovery of Finances) (Amendment) Bill-2014 was moved by Senator Raza Rabbani and it was also sent to Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue.
Responding to a motion regarding PIA performance, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said that the airline was suffering losses of Rs31.54 billion when the PML-N government came into power last year. "Out of the total 34 fleet of PIA, nine planes were grounded because of technical faults," he said, adding that big size planes were used for local routes that caused loses to the airline.
"The strength of employees is excessive as compared to the number of planes," he said. He remarked that some international routes were not feasible for the airline while millions of rupees were spent on the PIA's New York office. He said government had given Rs16 billion to PIA to clear its liabilities and some planes had been repaired, four planes got on wet lease and 11 more planes were being taken on dry lease to bring the airline out of financial crisis.
The House unanimously passed three resolutions. One of them, jointly moved by Senators Afrasiab Khattak and Farhatullah Babar, called upon the government to prepare and make public a workable plan for Fata to cleanse it of militant networks, provide compensation to victims of militancy, relief and rehabilitation of IDPs and a massive programme for the socio-economic uplift of the people. Another unanimous resolution moved by Sen Hamdullah of JUI-F recommended the government to take steps to tender the contract of Reko Deq gold mines in Balochistan in a transparent manner. The third unanimously passed resolution, moved by MQM’s Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, recommended government to take immediate steps to provide clean drinking water to people of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).