Islamabad- The senators on Wednesday stressed that any initiative of the United States to hold peace talks with Taliban without taking Islamabad on board would be a futile exercise, as Pakistan is a major stakeholder in the ongoing war on terrorism.
The lawmakers while quoting recent reports about opening of Taliban office in Qatar, Doha, with the US efforts and the plans of the US officials to meet the key members of the group to start a peace dialogue sought explanation from the government whether or not Pakistan had been consulted about the step taken by the US.
Mushahid Hussain Sayed of PML-Q, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of JUI-F and Kazim Khan of PPP, who spoke on the issue, demanded of the government to inform the house about the issue through advisor to prime minister on foreign affairs. They also sought how the peace process in Afghanistan would take its course.
However, Leader of House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq assured the house that advisor to prime minister on foreign affairs would soon brief the house over the matter of opening of Taliban office in Qatar and the possible peace talks between the US and Taliban. At the same time, he welcomed the establishment of proper Taliban office, saying there was a time when nobody wanted to open dialogue with Taliban but now the atmosphere had changed and this initiative was an important development.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed terming the initiative a healthy development towards restoration of peace in the region said peace must also be restored in Pakistan whether through talks with the militants or any other initiative.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri suggested that terror activities in Pakistan could be stopped at maximum level if peace could be restored in neighbouring Afghanistan. He argued that Pakistan should be clear on its stance with regard to terrorism during the peace talks to be held between Taliban and US officials in Qatar. He also said if the US ignored Pakistan’s role in peace talks, the whole exercise would prove a futile exercise. Kazim Khan said Pakistan suffered a lot in the war on terror while the US had created countless problems in Afghanistan.
Senator Rehman Malik, a former PPP interior minister, said there was new wave of terrorism in Pakistan, which started from Balochistan, Karachi, and Peshawar. He demanded that the government to share terrorism related information with parliamentarians.
Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq termed the demand of Malik as unjust, saying two weeks had just passed since the new PML-N-led government had taken over. He lamented the situation would have been better if the last PPP government had worked on the issue seriously.
Some lawmakers condemned the incidents of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and urged the provincial government to take steps to improve law and order situation. Senator Suriya Amiruddin of PPP said injustices were made with Balochistan in the past and the security situation there had gone from bad to worse.
She demanded of the government to shift all the students, injured in attack at a bus of Bolan Medical Centre, to Karachi so they could get best possible medical treatment as they hailed from poor families.
Senator Farhatullah Babar speaking on a point of order drew attention to the reports that a serving military office was being appointed as director general military lands and cantonments department and called for rejecting the summary reportedly moved to safeguard the interests of the federal government as the owner of the land.
He said that under the administrative reforms of 1973 all posts in the Military Lands and Cantonment (MLC) Department are to be filled in through a nationwide competitive examination held by the FPSC and the post of DG is to be filled in by promotion from among officers of the group.
However, General Musharraf in contravention of the law and rules appointed serving military officers to the post and this practice was still under way, he said, adding all lands belonged to the government and the MLC Department managed the defence land on behalf of the owner of land namely the federal government.
A serving military officer, however, represented the user of the defence land namely the defence forces. By appointing a serving military officer to the post of DG the crucial distinction between the user and regulator had been done away with. The land user had now also become its regulator on behalf of the federal government, which was intrinsically wrong, he added.
Continuing debate on annual budget 2013-14, the senators stressed that the budget had nothing for the poor. Senators Mustafa Kamal, Ahmad Hasan, Nisar Mohammad Khan, Haji Adeel, Abdul Nabi Bangash, Kamil Ali Agha and Saeed Ghani took part in the debate.
PPP Senator Ahmed Hassan said bad economic conditions were the cause of worsening law and order situation in KPK while Mustafa Kamal of MQM argued that the budget totally ignored urbanisation and urged the need for the formulation of a policy to handle the issue of rapid urbanisation. He said that the influx of people to cities was in progress and the existing big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other were over populated and over burdened as well.
Senator Haji Adeel of ANP, on a point of order, severely objected to the unnecessary security at the entrance of the Parliament House.