Parliamentarians are not happy at being treated like mere commoners; they sit above the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) protocols and are loathe to deposit their national identity cards when entering FIA premises.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges on Thursday directed FIA to stop the practice immediately; however, it supported the agency’s prerogative to thoroughly check the parliamentarians’ vehicles to ensure security.
The committee did not dispose of the case and said that the final ruling will be given by the committee’s chairperson next week.
A lawmaker had moved the privilege committee complaining that he was asked to deposit his Computerised National Identity card (CNIC) at the gate of FIA Lahore office despite informing the agency officials that he was a sitting member of Parliament.
“Is FIA office above the Parliament? The parliamentarians have the exclusive right to go to any office without depositing their identity card. Is it not enough that the member introduces himself as a parliamentarian?” said Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, who was presiding over the committee meeting in the absence of its chairman, Nadeem Afazal Chan.
He said that all security requirements should be fulfilled, however, “such treatment is an embarrassment to an elected representative and it should not be repeated in future”.
FIA Director Administration Inam Ghani said that there are no directives from the administration requiring parliamentarians to deposit their identity cards at the agency gates. “We even send our protocol officer to bring parliamentarians if we have prior knowledge of their visits.”
However, keeping in view the recent threats the agency has received, it is important to follow the security protocol, he said.
The committee also discussed another case of privilege motion filed by Member National Assembly (MNA) Syed Muhammad Saqlain Bokhari.
The MNA had complained that Railways Chief Engineering Amir Khan had used abusive language with him when the engineer was enquired about the slow progress of work under his jurisdiction. The committee directed Secretary Railways to investigate the case and report back to the committee within 15 days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.