Rabbani calls for in-camera briefing on military losses

  • Senate chairman says no information can be withheld from parliament
  • Senator Wazir suggests Afghanistan be made aware of action against illegal border crossers

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Tuesday expressed displeasure at being told that the information about losses to armed forces has been sought from the quarters concerned, as sometimes such data is not revealed publicly.

State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali was briefing the House on ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC) in the absence of Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif following a call attention notice moved by Senator Mian Atique.

The Senate chairman said that no information can be withheld from the parliament whether it was the government or the defence or security apparatus. “I am not ready to accept if any department feels reluctant to provide information,” he said.

“We can convene an in-camera session,” he said, adding that the parliament was supreme where every kind of information can be shared. However, he gave a way out saying that if they desire secrecy, the session can be declared in-camera so the information remains within four walls of the House.

The chairman gave two proposals with one as declaring the specific portion of proceedings as in-camera or secondly, to place the required information with his Senate Office where any member can view it. “And this would be done during the current session.”

Intervening at the point, Leader of House Raja Muahmmad Zafarul Haq said the defence minister always ensured replies to points related to him in the House business and the two option offered by the chair would be validly considered. On this the chairman said he was not mentioning to absence of the minister rather seeking a mechanism to get the required information.

The House told that 66 civilians were killed and 228 others injured by cross-Line of Control firing. The issue of firing by Afghan forces at a census team near the Pak-Afghan border also came under discussion after senators Sherry Rehman, Azam Swati, Nauman Wazir, Sirajul Haq and Tahir Mashhadi submitted an adjournment motion.

Addressing the Senate, Senator Swati recalled that a census team working in Pakistan’s residential areas near the border was attacked by the Afghan forces which resulted in the loss of valuable lives of civilians and armed officials. Senator Wazir said that most elements within the Afghan administration were against Pakistan.

He pointed out that NATO and the International Security Assistance Force had been unable to control terrorism in Afghanistan. “It is a high-time the Afghan government be made aware that appropriate action shall be taken against those who cross the border illegally,” he said.

RAPID BUS FOR BALOCHISTAN: The Senate continued discussion on Finance Bill, 2017, containing the annual budget statement, under the Article 73 of the constitution. Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that the government was working on agenda to change the life of common man by introducing more incentives for them.

She said that more allocation should be made for Balochistan province. She expressed the hope that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would prove as source of development for Balochistan. She said that solar tube-wells should be provided to Balochistan besides rapid bus project.

She said that the youth of Balochistan should be given more jobs while more allocations should be made under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for Balochistan. Senator Khalida Parveen urged to allocate more funds for health sector. She said it was high time to improve heath infrastructure and provide more facilities at hospitals to assist patients.

She said that more funds should be allocated for Siraiki belt to change the life of a common man by introducing more incentives for them and making these areas at par with the developed areas. Senator Samina Abid said that more incentives should be announced for poor segment of society. She said that more relief packages should be announced in the budget for small provinces.

Senator Hari Ram urged the government to overcome energy deficit issue. He said that the local industry was facing difficulties due to power loadshedding. Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said that the provinces should also make pro-poor budget rather criticising the centre on the federal budget.