The Senate session witnessed on Tuesday heated exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches on bringing the National Security Policy (NSP) to parliament and the appointment of retired armed forces personnel in the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra).
The opposition also criticised the absence of relevant federal ministers during the proceedings and urged Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to give a roll call for the ministers to come to the house and answer the questions from the senators.
Mian Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) demanded that the recently-announced national security policy should be brought to parliament. He said that the government had announced the policy without taking parliament and the provinces into confidence.
Leader of the House Dr Shehzad Waseem replied that the policy was presented in the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and reminded that opposition had boycotted the committee. He also pointed out that the policy had been presented in the Senate Standing Committee on Defence.
During the Question Hour, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan informed the house that no retired or in-service employee of the Pakistan armed forces was working in NADRA on deputation basis.
Also read: Opposition demands placing NSP before parliament
Replying to a query from Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the state minister said that as many as 13,997 employees were working in NADRA, whereas only six employees were working on deputation.
However, the JI senator termed answer unsatisfactory, saying that he specifically inquired about the number of retired armed forces personnel employed by Nadra. Rabbani said that the minister in charge for this question was Sheikh Rashid, therefore, he should provide the answer.
Opposition Leader Yousuf Raza Gilani said that the ministers should come to the house. “The whole burden is placed on Ali Muhammad Khan,” he said. “In our time,” he added, “the prime minister answered questions in the house. Ministers should come to the house to answer questions.”
The chairman said that the minister of state should bring the ministers so that new faces could be seen. Ali Muhammad Khan said that the ministers were present in the Senate session on Monday. He added that more than half of the questions had been answered.
bout Senator Mushtaq Ahmed’s question, the state minister told the house that his query regarding deputation was answered, adding that a new question should be submitted regarding the deployment of armed forces personnel.
Also read: National security policy a great step: COAS
Senator Mushtaq said that his question was clear, adding that retired employees of the armed forces were recruited on attractive packages. “Why doesn’t the government answer this question? Our youth are unemployed,” he asked.
Ali Mohammad Khan said that the new question was not submitted. He added that it was not known why the opposition hated the Pakistani forces so much. Senator Rabbani said that they were not against the armed forces but the “militarisation of civilian institutions is not acceptable”.
Rabbani pointed out that the director of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), chairmen of Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Airport Security Force (ASF), and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) belonged to armed forces.
However, Khan insisted that he had answered the question. He advised the opposition to desist from the hate-based politics. Dr Shehzad Waseem said the opposition took the question about NADRA to the military, adding that the military belongs to the country.
Also read: Military terms NSP ‘important milestone’ in meeting emerging challenges
Railway Minister Azam Swati said that Railways was an unfortunate institution. Once it was a profitable institution but it went down because of political recruitments. “Irony is that there were six employees in the house of a Grade 17 officer of Pakistan Railways,” he pointed out.
Gilani said that railway patrollers had been working for 10 years. “The question is that whether these poor people can be rehabilitated or not,” he asked. Swati replied that the department was already overstaffed, however, if someone’s rights were violated, he could approach him.
Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came to provide employment to the people but instead it had started firing people. Swati said that the task of any government was not to create jobs but to create opportunities.
Responding to a question from PML-N’s Afnanullah Khan about the Main Line 1 (ML-1), Swati said the Chinese government had been requested for loan for the Package-1 of the ML-1. “The Package-1 requires over $2.43 billion loan and we are still awaiting response from Chinese government,” he said.
The minister told the house that the total cost of the ML-1 project was more than $6.8 billion. He added that the prime minister had formed a financing committee, headed by the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission. The committee had so far held nine internal meetings and four with Chinese officials.
Also read: Cabinet approves Pakistan’s first-ever National Security Policy: NSA
Later, Ali Muhammad Khan introduced the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Amendment Ordinance 2021 and another bill regarding the consular officers’ oath. A motion was also moved in the Senate to extend the deadline for submission of reports on various bills the relevant committees.
Senator Kamran Murtaza raised the issue of the closure of the radio station in Zhob, Balochistan. The Chairman referred the matter to the relevant committee. In another written reply, the interior ministry informed that house that was no law for the registration of beauty parlours and salons in Islamabad.
Responding to another question, the state minister for parliamentary affairs said that the Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) issued violation tickets against fancy number plates. He added the use of bogus number plates was a crime and cases should be registered against such vehicle owners.
During the proceedings, Qaratul Ain Marri pointed out that some members were not wearing masks. The chair directed them to wear masks. The Senate Chairman sought report from the inspector general of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police on the killing of two clerics in Peshawar.
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