In what appears to be an expression of its lack of trust in government’s efforts to implement the National Action Plan (NAP), the Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Charsadda atrocity, while demanding a parliamentary oversight committee to review the country’s counter-terrorism efforts.
“The Senate also demands an oversight committee of parliament to monitor the efforts of the federal and provincial governments as well as agencies concerned, to further improve the performance,” said the resolution moved by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq on behalf of all parliamentary leaders and five other senators.
Chairman Raza Rabbani had floated the idea, saying that holding an in-camera briefing over security issues in the wake of Wednesday’s attack on the Bacha Khan University would be ‘cosmetic’ and there must be a parliamentary committee to oversee implementation of the NAP.
The NAP was unanimously adopted by the national leadership after the December 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar. Last month, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had claimed that NAP had brought about a visible decline in incidents of terror and a marked improvement in the country’s overall security situation.
The resolution was passed after a 170-minute debate in which 39 senators from both sides of the aisle took part and criticised the government over its efforts to implement NAP.
JUI-F’s Maulana Attaur Rehman said parliament had passed several resolutions to address issues through ‘dialogue’ but we are not paying any attention to them. “Let’s all pass a unanimous resolution that war is not a solution but dialogue is,” Rehman said.
Barrister Saif of MQM demanded that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar must resign. Salahuddin Tirmizi of the PML-N also asked for accountability of the people at the helm while PPP’s Sassui Palijo said,” “Today we challenge claims of Chaudhry Nisar as the Charsadda incident puts a question mark over whatever he has said [about NAP].”
However, Haq defended Nisar and efforts of his ministry.
Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan said the state still considered some Taliban as its ‘assets’ and that NAP was the ruling party’s plan against Sindh while no action was taken in Punjab where three big names of terrorism were based. “Pay attention to the war against terrorism, the way you [government] pay attention to projects like Metro Bus, Motorways etc.” he added.
PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said peace will be an elusive goal for Pakistan unless there is peace in Afghanistan as well. “The state must revisit its policies, desist from treating Afghanistan as our fifth province and stop employing non-state actors of all persuasions from advancing their own agenda in the region,” he said.
Kakar announced three-day mourning on behalf of his PkMAP and said things could not improve unless army and intelligence agencies stopped interfering in political affairs. “Decisions are taken by the GHQ [General Headquarters] but the issue would remain unresolved unless parliament is empowered,” he added.
Debate in the lower house
Lawmakers in the National Assembly also condemned the brazen attack on the Bacha Khan University and demanded that the government review the policies it has been pursuing over the years.
The day started with the routine business but the Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah asked Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to suspend order of the day in view of the grave incident.
Later, speaking on the floor of the house, PkMAP’s Mehmood Khan Achakzai claimed that the attack must lead to Afghanistan and that such attacks could not be carried out without supply of ammunition and financial assistance from outside.
Achakzai claimed that he could bet that not a single member in the house knew what the country’s foreign policy was. He asked the government to announce it will disallow use of its land against neighbouring countries and dismantle all terror sanctuaries for peace in the region.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the nation was successful in combating terrorism with support of the army, which, he said, had sacrificed many lives in the line of duty.
“We are reaping what we sowed decades ago and it will take time to eliminate this menace [of terrorism],” he said.
“The country has had enough of the past policies of proxies and it is still paying their price,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2016.