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ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition clashed in the Senate on Monday over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s administering of oath to people allegedly in “Hitler style” in an effort to ensure that they march onto Islamabad at a time when 33 million flood-affected Pakistanis urgently need assistance.

Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman, who had represented Pakistan in Geneva, in the UN and the Government Pakistan joint launch of the revised flash appeal of US $ 816 million on October 4, while updating the House on the revised appeal and the current situation of flood victims, strongly criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for his preparations for marching onto Islamabad in this crisis.

“While 33 million people of the country have been affected due to the catastrophic floods in the country and 20 million are still in need which is the worst natural calamity of the century but, unfortunately, an opposition leader, instead of reaching out to the floods victims, is administering oath to the people in public meetings in a “fascist” way in “Hitler’s style” to storm onto Islamabad. He should be ashamed of himself,” the minister maintained.

Sherry Rehman’s remarks prompted the PTI senators to protest inside the House by creating uproar and they demanded the minister to take her words back, which she refused.

However, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani later expunged the “unparliamentarily words” of the minister on the insistence of the PTI senators who were constantly protesting before the minister left the House.

Responding to the minister’s remarks, the leader of the opposition Senator Shahzad Wasim lashed out at the government’s “incompetence” to reach out to the flood victims in Sindh.

“Sindh is, actually, sinking not because of climate change, but due to corruption of Sindh government,” he responded, adding that his party leader Imran Khan is holding telethon and collecting donations for the flood affectees.

Criticizing the prime minister and his ministers’ visits abroad, he said that the entire world is coming to assist the flood-affected people while the premier and the ministers are frequently undertaking foreign visits.

Meanwhile, winding a house debate on the unabated use of narcotics drugs, especially “ice” in the country with a particular reference to the educational institutes, Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shazain Bugti said that his ministry is in touch with the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training launch of anti-drug campaigns in the educational institutes to create awareness among the students against the menace.

He said that a comprehensive strategy would be devised to save the future of the young generation. He said that the ministry has taken multiple initiatives to purge this menace from the country.

Updating the House on the actions taken by Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) in the last four months, he said that the ANF, despite having little resources, recovered around 49,355 kilograms of drugs. He said that about 7,486 kg opium, 2,719 kg morphine, 65 kg crystal, 3,622 kg heroine, 19,808 kg hashish, 10kg cocaine, 1,383 kg meth, 210 kg ecstasy tablets, 2,700 kg poppy seeds, one kg cannabis, 2,208 kg ketamine, and other substances were also seized during the said period.

While responding to the concerns raised by Senator Sania Nishtar about the alleged torture of drug addicts in rehabilitation centres, the minister said that the senator’s observations were contrary to the ground situation, adding that all rehabilitation centres were being run by professional staff.

He further said that the ministry will compile a report to ascertain the number of total drug addicts in the country. He said that the work on the report will begin by the end of October, which will be completed by September next year.

The minister said that the number of manpower in the ANF were being increased to enhance its performance, adding that some 3,600 personnel were performing duties on dry ports, airports, borders, and other areas. He said an application had been moved to the Establishment Division for the recruitment of additional 3,700 ANF personnel.

Taking part in the debate, Senator Nishtar regretted that the drug addicts in the country are being dealt with in a draconian manner. She suggested that oral substitution therapy should be introduced by making a regulated framework, besides allocating 10 beds for drug addicts in every public sector hospital in the country.

Senator Bhramand Khan Tangi said around 40 percent narcotics were smuggled to Pakistan through Afghanistan, while about seven million people in the country were addicted to drugs.

Meanwhile, taking part in the discussion on the situation arising out of the recent catastrophic floods in the country, the senators called for an effective strategy so that relief assistance coming from abroad reaches every victim at the earliest in a transparent manner.

On a point of order, Senator Mohammad Mushtaq of JI strongly condemned the two separate incidents of attacks on school vans in Swat and Dir in which a driver was killed and six schoolchildren got injured.

He also maintained that the other day the security forces conducted an alleged “fake encounter” in Swat, adding that the families of the two persons killed in the encounter have refused to accept that the deceased were terrorists.

On his demand, the chair referred the incident to Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights to investigate the incident.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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