ISLAMABAD: Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has sought public explanation from the government over its decision to ignore anti-corruption watchdog’s recommendations regarding placing the name of former premier Nawaz Sharif on the Exit Control List (ECL).
Responding to a query in the National Assembly on Friday, he said during his tenure as interior minister for the first time the ECL policy was reshaped.
“Prior to my tenure names were placed on the ECL even after a brawl between a couple. Now matters of the ECL are decided by a committee set up in the Ministry of Interior,” he stated on the floor of the house.
He said as interior minister, he also eliminated the role of the secretary and the minister in the ECL matters and added the committee used to decide the matters on merit.
“NAB’s decisions used to be taken seriously during my tenure. Now if the recommendations of NAB have been ignored, then it has not been decided by the committee but it has come from elsewhere,” Chaudhry Nisar stated.
He said, “The house should be informed if someone’s name was placed on the ECL and other’s not.”
He was responding to a question of PPP-P’s Syed Naveed Qamar as why a former premier’s name was not placed on the ‘no-fly list’ which is maintained by the Ministry of Interior, despite the recommendations of NAB in this context.
Meanwhile, on a calling attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Cabinet Secretariat Raja Javed Ikhlas informed the house that Pakistan has over Rs200 billion funds available in its kitty (for gas infrastructure development cess) and he is writing to the government to start work on the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project.
He denied the impression created by some reports that Iran was going to sue Pakistan for not doing its part of work on the project.
Ikhlas said: “Iran has yet to complete work on its side of the border on the Pak-Iran gas pipeline due to which the project has not materialised so far.”
Mir Aijaz Kakhrani, one of the movers of the calling attention, told the house that Iran was responsible for laying down 300kilometer of pipeline while Pakistan was responsible to lay pipeline on an area spanning over 780km and “nothing has been materialised yet in this context on behalf of Pakistan”.
Raja Ikhlas informed the house that one million new gas connections were being provided after lifting a moratorium on it. “New gas connections are being given purely on merit.”
He said a number of new gas reserves has been discovered in recent years at various locations which “will help increase the supply of this important commodity in the country”.
He assured the house that preference in new gas connections will be given to such areas where gas reserves are discovered.
The opposition also sought explanation from the government on an alleged offer of PM Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail to give Pakistan Steel Mills free to any investor who is ready to take over financial burden of PIA.
Dr Azra Pechuho of the PPP-P said, “It’s a serious matter that the PM’s adviser has made such remarks.”
She said the severity of the matter could not be ignored even if those remarks were made for fun.
Syed Naveed Qamar said the government should have clarified the point which was raised by Dr Pechuho. “It is a very important question given the fact that the federal budget is about to be unveiled next month.”
The National Assembly was also informed that 48 additional posts have been constructed along the border with Afghanistan to curb smuggling.
Parliamentary Secretary for Interior Dr Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla said, “After Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, smuggling of illegal weapons has been reduced in the country.”
He said 207 illegal weapons have been confiscated during the last year.
Replying to another question, he said the government has taken a number of steps to give maximum protection to journalists so that they could perform their duties without any fear or threat.
Dr Dhandla said all the Station House Officers in Islamabad have been directed to register the case upon receipt of any complaint by any journalists without any delay.
“Similarly, mobile patrolling has also been increased in areas where offices of journalists, press clubs and residences are situated.”
The parliamentary secretary on interior also informed the house that CNICs have been issued to 114.19 million people in the country.
He said that the government is facilitating people to get their particulars registered with NADRA after attaining the age of 18 and added “there is no policy to issue identity cards to aliens”.
Replying to another question, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Development, Dr Ibadullah said, “The Public Sector Development Programme is for the whole country and funds are allocated without any discrimination.”
He said for the first time in the country’s history, PSDP 2017-2018 was raised to Rs101 billion.
The house was also informed that there was no policy of the government to give any sort of incentive on tree plantation in the country.
Colonel (retd) Amirullah Marwat of the PTI had inquired whether there was any incentive for plantation of trees like that of Germany where rebate on tax is awarded to the citizens who grow trees.
On a point of order, SA Iqbal Qadri said that former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif had announced to set up passport office in each district of the country. “However, four passport offices are yet to be established in Karachi.”
The house did not take up a calling attention notice and dropped it over the absence of the movers.
Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi chaired the sitting throughout the day and afterwards the session was prorogued for an indefinite period.
Meanwhile, journalists in the parliamentary gallery boycotted the proceedings for a while to register their protest over manhandling of journalists in number of cases.
The chair asked Rana Tanveer Hussain and Peer Hasnat to talk to the journalists and resolve their issues.
Later talking in the House Rana Taneer Hussain suggested making a committee functional which was set up to remove the grievances of the journalists.