A parliamentary panel has hinted at toughening laws to keep a check on spy agencies blamed for ‘enforced disappearance’ of dissenters in the country.
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) is likely to finalise its recommendations on how to trace thousands of people who have ‘gone missing’ in different parts of the country over the past few years.
“We are considering amending laws … [to keep a check] on intelligence agencies,” PCNS Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani told the media on Tuesday.
During the PCNS meeting, which lasted for over three hours, a lawmaker underlined the need for fresh legislation to regulate the working of intelligence agencies. Other committee members agreed with the idea and decided to recommend major changes in the ‘law of evidences’.
Senator Rabbani said that PCNS recommendations would set a parameter on how to amend laws to improve the condition of human rights in the country.
The veteran senator said that there was ‘substantial evidence’ that Pakistan’s neighbouring countries are funding militants in Balochistan to fuel insurgency in the restive province.
Although he did not name any country, an insider told The Express Tribune that the country’s spymaster said: “India and Afghanistan are funding banned militant groups involved in the Balochistan insurgency.”
“They (India and Afghanistan) are funding the Balochistan Republican Army, Baloch Liberation Front, Balochistan Liberation United Front, Baloch Defaee Tanzeem and Lashkar-e-Balochistan,” ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam was quoted as telling the PCNS. Lt Gen Islam and officials of other spy agencies also briefed the meeting about the steps being taken by concerned authorities for the recovery of ‘missing persons’.
“External security threats … al Qaeda and local militants [are issues that] must be addressed [immediately],” insiders quoted the spymaster as saying.
Senator Rabbani told the media that the committee would finalise its recommendations by May 15 or 16, which would be made public accordingly.
Inspector General of Frontier Corps (FC) Maj Gen Nadir Zaib and the Balochistan home secretary also briefed the committee on the ‘missing persons’ issue.
Maj Gen Zaib informed the committee that all ‘missing persons’ had gone to Afghanistan and no one was in the custody of his force, a participant of the meeting told The Express Tribune.
After the meeting, Zaib told journalists that suggestions on how to solve the ‘missing persons’ issue have been submitted to the government and ‘it is now their responsibility to work on them’.
Earlier, the PCNS chairman did not allow Interior Secretary Siddiq Akbar to attend the meeting for his late arrival. Senator Rabbani directed the staff not to open the door of meeting room, after Akbar arrived 25 minutes late.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.