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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday again deferred a debate on the question of the French ambassador’s future. The House was all set to initiate a debate on two resolutions – separately moved by state minister for parliamentary affairs Ali Muhammad Khan and a treasury MNA Amjad Ali Khan – calling for holding a debate on whether or not the French envoy should be expelled from the country.

But no debate took place and the deputy speaker Qasim Suri, who was presiding over the session, prorogued the House amid opposition protests and sloganeering by the opposition legislators who also surrounded the dais of the speaker when he did not allow them to speak on points of order.

The lawmakers belonging to both opposition and treasury disagreed on how to proceed with some chanting anti-France slogans while others displaying a poster calling for the envoy to be “booted out”.

Soon after the House started its question-hour, the opposition MPs asked deputy speaker to allow former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal to speak on points of order, which he repeatedly declined. This prompted the opposition MPs to stage a protest by surrounding the speaker's dais and raising “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah” and “Tajdar Khatam-e-Nabuwat (PBUH)” slogans. Some of them – both from opposition and treasury – were holding up placards as well.

As tensions in the lower house escalated, the deputy speaker prorogued the session sine die.

The PPP MPs, who had earlier boycotted the session, returned to the House and said they wanted to take part in the debate.

Later, speaking to media outside Parliament House, Raja Pervez Ashraf slammed Suri's move to prorogue the House, saying the opposition lawmakers wanted to ask the government about the agreement which was signed with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and debate on a resolution presented in the assembly. He asked: “Under which law was the TLP banned and why was the previous agreement between the government and the outfit not implemented?” Separately talking to media along with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and JUI-F’s Maulana Asad Mehmood, Ahsan Iqbal criticised the deputy speaker for not listening to opposition members.

He said the government “escaped” by proroguing the House after opposition protested, adding that “we wanted to debate on Khatm-e-Nabuwat (PBUH) resolution.”

He also accused the PTI government of imposing curbs on media and freedom of expression, saying that these practices had been going on for a while.

He also condemned the Quetta blast, saying that the government had failed to protect the lives of innocent people.

Iqbal said that Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and DG ISI should present the policy of the state in parliament so that the House can pass a comprehensive and substantive resolution which is truly representative of the people.

He said the opposition wanted to raise the issue of attack on a senior journalist Absar Alam, “which is an attack on the media.” Besides, he added, it also wanted to raise the issue of the Quetta blast.

He alleged that it was the failure of the government to ensure security of the most protected and guarded areas. “It was not just an incident of terrorism but it was an attack on CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor],” he said, adding that such incidents could damage the image of the country and the CPEC.

According to him, the incidents of terrorism are rising because the government has shifted focus of the security agencies from security to “victimization of the opposition parties”. “The priority of the government is not prevention of the terrorism but farming fake cases and against the opposition,” he alleged.

In a written reply to the House, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that significant efforts have been made in curbing’ human trafficking, smuggling and performance of FIA during the last three years.

He said that FIA has registered 14,595 cases while 8,125 accused persons convicted from trial courts during the said period. He said 5,831 human traffickers, human smugglers, agents have been arrested and punished by courts.

About the steps being taken by FIA to curb illegal smuggling, he said that National Action Plan (NAP) was adopted in 2005 to take action against human trafficking and illegal migration.

To another question, he said a number of steps have been taken to strengthen Cyber Crime Wing of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) since 2018.

In the year 2018, he said 10 new Cyber Crime Reporting Centres were established to give people easy access for their complaints. In 2019, 367 new officials/officers were recruited through PSDP Project which has improved the working of the circles to enhance capabilities and expertise/skills of existing manpower. He said that updated forensic equipment and softwares are being procured within the allocated budget for efficient performance. To another query, the Minister for Interior told the House that the current strength of police personnel in the Federal Capital is insufficient as the sanctioned number of police personnel in ICT is 11,544 whereas the existing number stands at 10183.

He said that 22 police stations and four check posts have been established in the Federal Capital.

In a written reply to the house, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Sahabzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan said that at present, 2.7 million Afghan nationals are living in Pakistan under three categories: 1.435 million Afghan POR cardholders; 0.84 million Afghan Citizen Cardholders (newly documented) and about 0.5 million un-documented/un-registered Afghans.

Parliamentary Secretary for Interior Shaukat Ali told the house during question-hour that there has been corruption worth billions of rupees in the Kashmir Housing Society. He said a case is being sent to NAB for further action.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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