ISLAMABAD - The opposition benches in Senate on Friday questioned the government’s policy of peace talks with outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the banned group is publicly claiming responsibility for terrorist attacks on the armed forces.
As the upper house of the parliament delayed the debate on annual budget 2014-15 for two more days, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) raised the issue of peace talks in the house while two senior ANP lawmakers painted a bleak picture of law and order situation in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, the government gave a different version and said its policy on peace talks was ‘stated and clear.’
ANP lawmaker Shahi Syed also asked the government about the situation in Karachi arising after the arrest of MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London and asked, “What the government is thinking over it?” He appreciated the role of MQM and said the party saved Karachi from mayhem after its chief’s arrest.
Quoting the terrorist attack on an army vehicle near Feteh Jhang on Wednesday last in the outskirts of Rawalpindi that killed two army officers, besides others, and whose responsibility was claimed by TTP, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani asked the government about the status of its peace talks as the TTP was attacking the armed forces and then claiming responsibility openly. “The government should come out of the state of flux because this issue has direct impact on armed forces and policies of Pakistan, Rabbani said, adding that the opposition condemned the attack on armed forces. “The government should clear its policy regarding Taliban and tell what its policy actually is?” he asked.
Rabbani pointed out that the incident of Fateh Jhang happened due to absence of any mechanism of intelligence sharing. He criticised the performance of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of the ministry of interior in this connection. The NACTA’s role has been undermined by placing it under one ministry and then another, he said and proposed that it should be strengthened.
Afrasiab Khattak of ANP painting a bleak picture of law and order situation in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) said that killings and kidnappings in the area have become a routine matter and the government has no statistics about them. Accusing the government of remaining silent on the issue, he said, “The area is facing situation like that of Sudan.” The government is even silent on the killing of its patriot and pro-government leader Malik Qadir Khan in the area. “Five hundred thousand of FATA IDPs were living in a shambles,” he said, adding that there was no forum regarding FATA legislation. “Around 200 schools have been closed only in Bara area of FATA for the last many years but no one is there to take action,” he said. Even ‘good Taliban’ leader Gul Bahadar has also talked about ending the peace agreement keeping in view the policies of the government, he said.
He alleged that the government of Pakistan got foreign terrorists including Chechens settled in FATA, as the people of area had never invited them. “All this is because of the wrong Afghan policies,” he asserted, asking the government to give its clear-cut policy on the issue of terrorism.
Replying to the opposition’s queries, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said, “The policy of the government on peace talks was clear under the decision of an All Parties Conference (APC) that dialogue would be held with those militant groups which want dialogue and state power will be used against others.” The drone attacks have been completely halted, he said, adding that the government also condemned attacks on the armed forces. “Dialogue will continue with those who want dialogue,” Zafar asserted. He said that the government would announce package for development and security of FATA shortly.
The senators from Balochistan raised the issues of prolonged electricity loadshedding and poor law and order situation in the province. Abdul Rauf of PkMAP said the Balochistan was facing 22 hours long loadshedding daily. Robina Irfan, another lawmaker from Balochistan, requested the State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali to withdraw its announcement about disconnection of power connections in the province, saying the province was already facing bad situation.
Haji Adeel of ANP remarked that PTI-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has failed to bring peace in the province in general and in Peshawar in particular. He alleged that police force was reluctant to fight terrorism as the PTI government publicly terms Taliban as their brothers. Haji Guhulam Ali of JUI-F endorsed the ANP senator.