Govt asked to be careful in Kulbhushan case at ICJ

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The Parliamentary Committee on National Security Tuesday asked the federal government to take all necessary measures to fight the case of Indian saboteur Kulbhushan Jadhav at the upcoming session of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The committee, which met at Parliament House with NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in the chair, also directed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to brief the committee in its next session on June 15 why the government had failed to act on the report of activities of banned outfits on social media especially ‘Facebook’.

Following the meeting, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq told media that the committee was briefed about Pakistan’s legal strategy about Indian spy Kalbhushan Jadhav’s case. He said the committee was informed that Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, National Security Advisor Nasser Janjua, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Secretary Foreign Affairs Tehmina Janjua briefed the closed-door meeting.

He said Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf will lead Pakistan’s legal team, scheduled to leave for The Hague on June 5. The legal team will meet the president of the ICJ on June 8, Sadiq said.

Sadiq also informed the media that the government would brief the parliamentary body on the government’s action against banned outfits in its upcoming meeting on June 15. He said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will also brief the participants regarding the Muslim leaders’ summit, held recently in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, opposition parties – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – raised the issue of the banned outfits’ canvassing on social media websites without any check, asking the government to explain its failure in this regard.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the committee members pointed out certain flaws in the federal government’s handling of the case at the ICJ. He said that it was agreed that the case would be fought with a holistic approach as the country’s case was strong enough to win.

He said the committee members were also surprised to find that banned outfits were using Facebook and social sites without any check. He said he had raised the issue at the meeting and asked the government to arrange a comprehensive briefing.

Qureshi said the committee wanted Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to turn up in the next meeting and brief committee members regarding banned outfits’ activities online.

Sherry Rehman of the PPP also said that the committee members were shocked to learn that the banned outfits existed in plain sight, just one search and one click away from any of Pakistan’s 25 million Facebook users.

According to a media report, 41 of Pakistan’s 64 banned outfits are present on Facebook in the form of hundreds of pages, groups and individual user profiles. Their networks, both interconnected and public, are a mixture of hardline and extremist sectarian or terror outfits, global terror organisations operating in Pakistan, and separatists in Balochistan and Sindh.

For the purpose of this investigation, the names of all banned outfits – including acronyms and small variations in spelling – were searched on Facebook to find pages, groups, and user profiles that publicly ‘liked’ a banned outfit.

The biggest outfits on the social network, in order of size, are Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) with 200 pages and groups, Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) with 160, Sipah-i-Sahaba (SSP) with 148, Balochistan Students Organisation Azad (BSO-A) with 54 and Sipah-e-Muhammad with 45.

Other banned outfits which existed on Facebook at a smaller scale include Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), 313 Brigade, multiple Shia outfits and a host of Baloch separatist organisations.