| Minister tells Senate zero tolerance for proscribed outfits | Lawmakers ask govt to reverify authenticity of census results
The government on Wednesday informed the Senate that it would withdraw additional security given to members of the joint investigation team (JIT) who probed allegations of financial misappropriation against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.
State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry informed the lawmakers that the government would cut security provided to the six members of the JIT that was not in line with the instructions of the Supreme Court. He said that presently Rangers were providing security to all of them.
Responding to a question posed by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Senator Usman Khan Kakar, Chaudhry said, “The government will look into the standard operating procedures (SOPs) about the security being given to the JIT members and they would only be provided necessary security under the instructions of the SC.”
“We have received reports that the JIT members and their children are being provided more security than necessary,” he said, adding, reports suggested that Rangers’ vehicles used to accompany even the children of the JIT members when they go to buy grocery in the markets. JIT was headed by Additional Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Wajid Zia.
In May, PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi had delivered a threatening speech against the members of the JIT and the judiciary. Later, the chief justice had taken a suo motu notice of Hashmi’s speech.
Responding to other questions, state minister for interior told the house that the government had a policy of zero tolerance with regard to proscribed organisations and there were no good or bad terrorists. However, he said, in the past, certain organisations enjoyed state’s support in the name of national interests but after his party took over the reins of power, this policy was not being followed. He further said that Jamatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e- Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) were under observation because both had the same roots.
The lawmakers taking part in the debate on the adjournment motion moved by PPP Senator Taj Haider, suggested the government to re-verify the authenticity of recently conducted census results through a post-census survey of some selected areas. They criticised the government for not addressing the concerns of the political parties and the provinces on the 2017 census what they said the exercise and its results were flawed.
They warned the government to take into consideration the reservations of the provinces otherwise the prevailing situation could lead to a constitutional crisis.
The senators, belonging to Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Fata, and irrespective of the party lines, unanimously challenged the census results. They said that this was the right time for the government to either accept or reject claims of ‘flawed counting’ by holding re-counting of some selected census-blocks.
Taj Haider opening the debate called the figures of house listing, first phase of the census, as highly unreliable and inaccurate. He said census 2017 results even did not match the figures compiled by the Bureau of Statistics in 2011 on the basis of house-count in Sindh, while Nadra’s data even put the population of Sindh on higher side. He said census 2017 results were in contrast with the previous statistics about population released by Bureau of Statistics and Nadra.
PTI Senator Shibli Faraz said that government was deliberately lingering on this controversy, as it wanted to delay the next general elections.
Separately, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan criticised the PML-N government for “making a bad deal with the China over the much-hyped China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project (CPEC).” Pakistan could have compelled China to build a ‘gold-paved’ road from Kashgar to Gwadar under CPEC if it had struck a wise deal before kicking off the billion dollar mega project, he said while speaking in the house on a debate regarding the role of state institutions in trichotomy of power. Despite efforts for 400 years, Russia could not succeed in materialising a similar project which was going to be a gateway to connect the Central Asian States with rest of the world, he said, adding, that Russian dream to build such a route could not be successful.
He said the government must take full advantage of CPEC knowing that it had tilted the international trade through the project. But the irony is that not a single Pakistani could be seen in major projects initiated under the CPEC, he deplored.
On controversy of imbalances between the state institutions, he said, the role of judiciary as one of the reasons of that as it always sides with military dictators, and validated their coups.
Criticising the ruling party, he said as long as the issues like LNG deal with Qatar, suspension of PIA operations to New York, etc would remain confidential from parliament the clash between institutions would become writing on the wall. He also advised the ruling PML-N to show some restraint and not to launch attacks on the superior judiciary in the wake of SC verdict over Panama Papers case.