Women lawmakers walk out of NA panel

Published: May 16, 2019
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National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP

National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party leader Hina Rabbani Khar and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Zohra Fatimi on Wednesday staged a walkout from the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs session in protest against the absence of secretary and high officials of the ministry concerned.

Committee chairperson Malik Muhammad Ehsanullah Tiwana had convened the session to review public complaints.

Khar said: “I am not sitting in today’s session as a protest. The session should at least have a person who can respond to the queries on a policy level”.

Upon chairman’s instructions, Khar’s protest was made part of the meeting minutes.

The committee chairman also expressed reservations against non-arrival of the copies of foreign office briefings after which Zohra Fatmi of PML N staged a walkout saying that unauthorised people should not be sent to the meeting.

On the other hand, foreign minister’s son and MNA Zain Qureshi also supported the stand taken by Hina Rabbani and said that discussion was needed on policy related matters.

The foreign minister is out of town, the MNA said.

However, Zain said the minister must show up at the meetings and if he is unavailable then the secretary should at least make up for him. Only officials with information and ability to respond to queries should come at committee meetings, he said.

During the meeting, federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director Immigration Nasir Satti said that a helpline and a one-window operation have been launched for assisting Pakistanis at the airport while complaints could also be registered on the website.

The prime minister’s complaint portal is also used by the public for resolution of their complaints, he said, “In 2018, we received a total of 128 complaints”.

FIA has zero tolerance for misbehavior while monitoring is also done through the help of CCTV, he added.

The committee chairman said that labourers returning from overseas countries are not treated well. “These are the people who come with their earnings,” he said, adding that all such workers deserve respect. It is unjust that VIPs are treated cordially while labor class is maltreated, Tiwana added.

MNA Munazza Hasan said the number of FIA staff at the airport was generally inadequate and their behaviour was also unruly.

“FIA must improve its behavior,” she said, asking whether the FIA was short of staff. “The FIA should impartially treat everyone. Currently, it deals VIPs and labourers differently”.

MNA Zain Qureshi said that if immigration counters at Pakistani airports were worse in comparison to immigration counters of other countries.

“In other places, airports welcome their citizens but here we have an entirely different way. We welcome foreigners and disregard the locals,” Qurehsi said.

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