ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition in the Senate Friday strongly advocated revisiting the National Action Plan (NAP), its strict implementation and making the civil and military bureaucracy answerable to the Parliament.
The House also adopted a unanimous resolution condemning the recent shameful act of mob attack on Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot. The resolution, moved by the Leader of the House in the Senate Shahzad Waseem, reiterated that extremism is condemnable in all its forms and manifestations.
The resolution demanded immediate punishment of not only the culprits involved in instigating and killing of Priyantha Kumara but also those involved in similar violent incidents in the past.
It said the unfortunate incident of brutality reflected the mindset of extremist elements that exists in our society, which has not only tarnished the peaceful image of Pakistan but also Islam. The resolution said the brutality is sheer violation of the spirit, principles, teachings and injunctions of Islam, the practices of Holy Prophet (PUBH), moral and human values, constitution and laws of Pakistan and customs and norms of our society.
The House, in the resolution, expressed its deepest sympathy with the family of Priyantha Kumara, the grief and sorrow felt and expressed at national level over this brutal and shameful incident.
The chair said a delegation of the senators would be sent to Sri Lanka to personally hand over the copy of the resolution to the family of Priyantha Kumara and express condolences with the family.
Taking part in the discussion on an adjournment motion, moved jointly by the government and opposition benches, ex-chairman Senate and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Mian Raza Rabbani questioned the government’s haste to extend support to the Afghan Taliban, when the latter did not even recognise the border and stopped the Pakistani forces from fencing the Pak-Afghan border.
Senator Rabbani called upon the foreign minister to take the parliament into confidence on Monday about a recent incident in which the new rulers in Afghanistan had reportedly barred Pakistan’s security forces from fencing the border. Pakistan has already fenced most of the 2,600km border with Afghanistan.
The current standoff, he noted, indicated the issue remained a contentious matter for the Taliban, despite its close relations with Islamabad: They are not ready to recognise the border, so why are we moving forward, Rabbani asked.
He said such incidents would continue to occur in the future as long as the Parliament did not take root and work for its solution. He lamented, “The Parliament is used when the state needs it. We are supporting the Taliban, but no one talks about whether the state’s policy towards Afghanistan is right on the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan”. He emphasised that the Parliament is the fulcrum for such decision making.
“When they are not ready to recognise the border, why we are moving forward? Banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) groups are reactivating in Afghanistan, which can potentially increase militancy and religious terrorism in Pakistan,” he added.
He said that the state had been historically supporting rightwing parties, militant groups in furtherance of their internal and external political doctrine: it counter the multi-lingual and ethnic complexion of Pakistan with a strong doze of religion.
Referring to the ceasefire with the TTP, Rabbani said that the state had to explain on what terms it was talking about a ceasefire, the state institutions and especially the parliament are being deliberately inactivated/ being made redundant.
“In such a situation, democratic polity and institutions functioning under the Constitution are being marginalised which is giving rise to fascism: the breakdown of the writ of the state and a different family of warlords emerging who are free from state control or pledged allegiance to the state on their own terms and conditions,” he regretted.
Rabbani said that the state could not afford any more secret agreements, NAP should be discussed again in the parliament. He said that in the dictatorship of Ziaul Haq, those who gave birth to alternative narratives, this thinking was eliminated under the state policy. The state of Pakistan means government and military bureaucracy, not the people sitting in the parliament.
He said that people are made missing, the state hides them in places where it is difficult to trace them, extremist groups set up alternative courts in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Swat, Malakand, but the state remained a silent spectator. He added that the militant groups violated the rights of the state but the state acted as a silent spectator: When there is such a state, how can you say that militancy will not spread, he asked.
PMLN Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar said that if one looks at the number of incidents of violence and taking the law into one’s hands; there were no such conditions in the 70s. He said that these things were seen in the martial law of General Ziaul Haq, these things were cultivated for political purposes, the Sialkot incident had shaken the nation, the brutality and barbarism with which the mob killed a Sri Lankan citizen was highly reprehensible.
He recalled that in the same city, two brothers were caught and tortured to death for theft. This is the social indifference that we all have to fight against. Senator Tarar said that the biggest responsibility of the parliament is to legislate. He added that only condemnation would not serve the purpose, there was need to review the justice system to ensure punishment to the culprits, come what may.
Senator Tarar contended that all political parties and other sections of society would have to put aside their petty interests to deal with extremism and intolerance and violence with unity. He said it was parliament’s responsibility to ensure necessary legislations to provide justice to the downtrodden and oppressed people.