Govt shy to share drone statistics

| NA custodian shows anger as MP’s question ‘stonewalled’ | House told LNG from Qatar at lowest rate

ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government has showed reluctance in sharing with members of the National Assembly details of the drone attacks in the country over the last five years.
To a question raised by an opposition lawmaker from MQM, Syed Asif Hasnain, seeking details of drone attacks along with the number of killings in the troubled areas of the country, the written response was: “Reply not received”.
To this, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed expressed annoyance and directed that the question must be answered in the next round.
Parliamentary Secretary Ch Jaffar Iqbal said that the question has been with at least four divisions, but perhaps its reply cannot be given on record. He suggested a reply “in an in-camera briefing”. When Aijaz Jakharani said this was insult to the elected House, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed assured that he would take notice of the matter.
The government had a bitter experience when it last shared the statistics of drone attacks and casualties in the Senate, as the opposition there vociferously pointed out the disparity in figures (as downplayed by govt).
The National Assembly was also informed that Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline Project could not be started until the international sanctions on Iran were lifted. “Even if the pipeline is laid, gas will not be available due to international sanctions,” Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said. The minister also held the previous government of Pakistan People’s Party responsible for extraordinary delay in this vital project. “The PML-N government has amended Petroleum Policy 2012 to enhance exploration of oil and gas in the country,” he said, inviting a rumpus from PPP, the main opposition party. Though PPP lawmaker Shazia Mari could not get the floor, she loudly defended the previous government's efforts for this project.
Abbasi further said schedule for CNG stations would be reviewed after improvement in weather conditions. He added gas theft cases worth Rs 7.708 billion were detected from January 2013 to December 2013.
Responding to a question about Indian violations on the Line of Control (LoC) from 2009 to 2013, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said 16 troops embraced martyrdom while 34 sustained injuries due to the LoC firing.
The defence minister, in a written reply, said Indian troops crossed LoC in Neelum sector and killed three Pakistani soldiers in 2011. In 2013, he said, Indian troops attacked a Pakistani post in Sank sector and killed one Pakistani soldier. He further said 81 civilian casualties were reported from 2009 to 2013.
Responding to a question, the federal law minister said 250 acid attack cases had been identified by regional directorates in the last five years. The minister, in a written reply, said 20 cases in Sindh, three in KP, six in Balochistan and 26 were reported in the Punjab areas.
To a question, the minister said LNG would be imported from Qatar at the lowest rate. “The government is making efforts for the procurement of LNG,” he said, adding the price of LNG in the country would be kept 30 percent lower than that of petroleum.
To another question, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab said the bill was under consideration in the Senate Standing Committee to give right of vote to overseas Pakistanis. “After seeing the report of this committee, further progress will be made,” he added.
Earlier, the opposition parties’ female lawmakers raised the issue that those involved in destroying Joseph Colony were still at large. “The accused are still at large, this is discrimination against minorities,” said PTI lawmaker Shireen Mazari on a point of order. Supporting her, PPP MNA Shazia Marri said minorities should not be treated in such a way. “We want the government to intervene in this issue,” she said, responding to the deputy speaker’s remarks that the matter was sub judice.
Taking the floor, PML-N lawmaker Hamza Shahbaz who made his presence first time in the current session assured the house of arresting the accused without any discrimination. “There is no discrimination as all the Joseph Colony victims were compensated,” he added.
Earlier, Federal Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid said Bangladesh had lifted the ban on waving countries’ flags during the ongoing T-20 World Cup. Responding to a call-attention notice, he said the ban was against sportsmanship.
To another call-attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan said the government was trying to decrease debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio. About the concerns raised by opposition lawmakers, including Dr Arif Alvi, Shireen Mazari, Azra Fazal Pechuho and Asad Umer, he said debt to GDP ratio was decreasing gradually.

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