Govt to take parliament into confidence over terror spike: law minister

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday said it was ready to hold a parliamentary debate regarding a rise in terrorism across the country, after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, during a joint sitting of parliament, forcefully protested the non-inclusion of the issue in the agenda.

The lawmakers also unanimously passed a resolution on Kashmir after delivering rhetorical speeches during the lacklustre proceedings.

Responding to Mr Rabbani, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would himself give a briefing to parliament and apprise the lawmakers on the prevailing security situation in the country. The government has no intention to prorogue the joint sitting which would continue into the next week, he added.

Interestingly, the law minister claimed that the government had included the debate on terrorism in the agenda but “perhaps it was left out due to some printing issue”. Mr Tarar told the house that the prime minister wanted to be present in the house for the debate, but he failed to explain the reason for Mr Sharif’s absence.

It may be recalled that the prime minister was scheduled to depart for Turkiye on Wednesday to express solidarity with the Turkish people after the devastating earthquake. However, he did not proceed to Turkiye and an impression was given that the prime minister had postponed his trip to attend the joint sitting. Mr Sharif, however, spent the entire day in Lahore while meeting his party leaders and members.

‘No mention of terrorism in agenda’

Taking the floor after the passage of the Kashmir resolution, Mr Rabbani drew the attention of Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf towards the agenda and regretted that it did not include the debate on the terrorism issue despite repeated demands from the Senate.

“Today Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) is bleeding …. Terrorism is rising all over the country, especially in KP, but there is no mention of terrorism in the agenda,” rued Mr Rabbani, while lashing out at the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s policy pertaining to militancy.

“The previous government initiated negotiations with the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) but did not take parliament into confidence. After that, it [the government] talked about their [militants’] rehabilitation and again parliament was not taken into confidence. Now the dangerous and serious consequences are before us, and terrorism is once again growing in the country,” Mr Rabbani added.

The PPP senator demanded that all stakeholders, including the military leadership, should be asked to give their viewpoint on the current spate of terrorism in the country.

“They [military people] are necessary stakeholders in this entire process. Therefore, it is the right of parliament and through it the people of Pakistan to be aware of what steps and what policies have been taken,” he said.

Mr Rabbani, who had previously served as the Senate chairman, also regretted that despite getting bail in all cases, South Waziristan MNA Ali Wazir had neither been released from jail nor the speaker had issued his production orders to attend the session.

Later, the lawmakers approved the controversial Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2022 with a crucial amendment, abolishing the provision of direct elections for the seats of the capital mayor and deputy mayor.

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