PPP criticises president over tribal areas reforms

  • Senator Babar asks govt to present FATA reforms package before parliament
  • ‘Govt not able to prevent disappearances, trace detention centres due to lack of legislation’

Senator Farhatullah Babar, opening the debate in the Senate on the presidential address to the joint session of the parliament, stated that the address was silent about the critical issue of reforms in the tribal areas, a subject of the presidency alone.

In his statement, he said that the meeting last week in the PM House on FATA raised several questions than it answered and asked for bringing the reforms package before the parliament. He pointed out that there was no mention in the press statement of the PM House about the jurisdiction of the superior courts in FATA nor of the law replacing the draconian FCR.

The (PM House) statement mentioned the creation of a new post of the Chief Operating Officer (COO), he said and expressed apprehension that sooner or later a general would be appointed as was proposed in the now aborted package of the chief executive to be filled by a grade 22 civilian or military officer.

In the presence of a uniformed officer as COO both the President House and the Government House will become redundant as the locus of power will shift to Rawalpindi further militarising the tribal areas. Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani announced to convene meeting next week of the Committee of the Whole on FATA Reforms and asked the senator to raise the issues then at which the minister concerned will also be present to give replies.

Senator Babar then touched upon the remarks of President Mamnoon Hussain on nuclear proliferation. He said that he welcomed the president’s remarks that Pakistan believed in nonproliferation and was entitled to a seat in the prestigious Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG).

However, the supreme commander’s categorical statement on nonproliferation and expression of pious hopes to enter NSG was soon contradicted by former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf who claimed that tons of nuclear material had been clandestinely shipped to North Korea, Iran and Libya and that it was done by just one individual.

Who will now trust President Mamnoon’s statement of nonproliferation and who will agree to give a seat to Pakistan on NSG, the foremost condition for which is an impeccable record of non-proliferation, he asked. By regurgitating almost forgotten story and contradicting the supreme commander, General Musharraf has done irreparable damage, he said and demanded action against the former military ruler.

Extremism: Senator Babar said that no progress had been made in the development of a national narrative to reject the militants’ extremist narrative. He said that the militancy cannot be fought with weapons alone. “Universities and seats of higher learning are now infested with extremism and militancy and there is a need for urgently developing a national narrative to counter it,” he said.

He proposed that the issue be discussed in the Senate’s Committee of the Whole to which all stakeholders should also be invited. The issue of missing persons was once again raised in the Senate when Hafiz Hamdullah pointed out the disappearance of a CII member along with his staff in Quetta a few day ago.

Taking part in the discussion, Senator Babar said that the issue of the missing person would continue to dodge the nation as long as there was no law to rein in the state agencies. He said that the Senate, the Supreme Court, the Commission on Enforced Disappearances and now the National Commission on Human Rights all had asked for legislation but to no avail.

“Is it because that those responsible are more powerful than all these state institutions combined,” he questioned. Because of lack of legislation, we have been groping in the dark to trace missing individuals but not able to trace the detention centres, prevent disappearances and punish those responsible, he said.

Hassan Naqvi

The writer is an Islamabad-based senior investigative journalist who covers politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached at: [email protected]; and on Twitter @hassannaqvi5.



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