Saturday’s attack on Shia Hazaras in Quetta dominated the Senate once again on Tuesday, when the prime minister and interior minister remained notably absent.
The Upper House wants the relevant ministries to give a detailed report on the state of security in Balochistan. It suspended all other items on the agenda to discuss this.
The Senate took up an adjournment motion moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement Senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashadi, seeking a debate on the blast that killed almost 90 people, mostly Hazaras.
Not just the prime minister, the interior minister and his deputy also failed to show up for the debate, but the attendance of lawmakers, particularly on the treasury benches, was also low.
The senators sounded fear and frustration over the failure of law enforcement agencies to control the sectarian violence, which, they added, had intensified after the enforcement of Governor Rule in Balochistan. “There will be no way forward to address the menace of terrorism without being informed about the ground realities from the ministry of interior and defence,” said Opposition Leader in Senate Ishaq Dar.
Dar was unhappy with Interior Minister Rehman Malik who had “disappeared” after depicting a gloomy picture of the country’s sovereignty, despite promising an in-camera briefing on the ‘conspiracy’ being hatched by what he said were some external forces against Pakistan.
“We are much concerned with his statement made on the floor of the house and we need an in-depth briefing from security agencies over this,” said Dar.
Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari asked the leader of the house, Jahangir Badar, to discuss the issue with the prime minister and interior minister and fix a date for the briefing.
He said it was unfortunate that amid protests across the country against the killings, the government had set the stage for more people to take oath as ministers for only 15 days. “This is a shame. For God’s sake stop this mockery,” he said.
Baloch Senator Hasil Khan Bazenjo said that there had been no sectarianism in Pakistan before 1980 and it was a new thing for the Baloch people too. “But it has been [perpetrated] by design as part of a conspiracy,” he said.
He also wanted a briefing from the ministries on the reasons behind the growing sectarianism, particularly that which targets Shias.
A small nugget of information came from Senator Farhatullah Babar who revealed that two members of a banned outfit, who were convicted by an anti-terrorist court, were set free from jail in Quetta on February 18, 2008, as part of what he said was a ‘conspiracy’ by the then dictatorial regime. These two convicted outlaws were responsible for the sectarianism in Balochistan since then, he added.
But Senator Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F pitched in to allege that international powers were key players in creating a law and order problem in the country.
“This is not a sectarian issue; people from both sects are being used by these forces which are much more powerful than even our governments,” he maintained.
He alleged that law enforcement agencies had their own interests as the Frontier Corps gets an additional Rs2.5 billion to take care of the law and order in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.
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