ISLAMABAD - Senators on Monday continued lambasting Taliban for defaming Islam and asked the government to unearth those foreign elements which were sponsoring militants in tribal territories.
Taking part in the debate, Senator Tahir Mashhadi of MQM complimented Army for launching a well-coordinated operation and rendering sacrifices to safeguard interests of the country.
He demanded that apart from operation the government should also pursue political dialogue and developmental process to resolve problems confronting people of the region.
He called for unity among the nation to assist the government for the rehabilitation of IDPs as they had left their homes just for the national security.
He called for consolidated policy for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the operation-hit areas.
Senator Ishaq Dar demanded steps to ensure speedy justice in Swat, which was demanded by the dwellers, and allocations for infrastructure development.
He said the Punjab government had so far sent 366 trucks loaded with relief goods to alleviate sufferings of the IDPs.
The Punjab government has decided to meet wheat requirements of the IDPs living in twenty-six camps for one year, he stated.
He said the government should not hand over the area to the residents as the militancy might re-emerge because some miscreants might impersonate themselves as commoners, adding the government should also set up a mechanism for disaster management.
Senator Maulana Gul Naseeb of JUI-F said what militants were doing was no service to Islam, rather their actions were bringing bad name to it.
He wanted to know how weapons were brought and militants came to Swat, an area away from the international border.
He also wondered how FM radio was allowed to operate in the area for two years.
He also questioned why the agreement was signed with Maulana Sufi Mohammed who headed banned outfit and alleged that prior to agreement, Sufi had been released from jail without bail.
Senator Tariq Azim of PML-Q said that military operation was a timely initiative as delay would have caused more destruction.
He said efforts were made to restore peace through dialogue but militants violated terms of Swat Accord.
He said it was responsibility of every citizen to support IDPs and the government should do planning for their rehabilitation.
He said the people in Upper Dir had stood up against the militants, proving that they were no more in favour of Taliban and urged the government to expose foreign hands involved in the disruption of peace in the areas.
Tariq Azim also asked the Information Minister to show the YouTube videos showing the scenes of decapitation of innocent people by Taliban on local television channels to expose the real face of Taliban to the people, who wanted to fulfil their specific agenda in the name of Nizam-e-Adl.
Senator Saeeda Iqbal said the government was taking necessary steps to mitigate the sufferings of the IDPs.
She said the relief work was being done in an organised and systematic manner and thanked the international community for sharing the burden.
Senator Gulshan Saeed said the country was facing certain challenges including militancy and she urged the government and political parties to unite to face the situation.
Gulshan said that by carrying out operation against militants, the Armed Forces were safeguarding interests of the country and it was the duty of all Pakistanis to provide them full backing.
She asked elected members to visit camps of the IDPs for morale boosting.
Senator Professor Muhammad Ibrahim of JI said that Swat situation had forced a large number of people to leave their homes in a short span of time.
He wanted foolproof measures to avoid collateral damage during operation.
He said the government should inform the general public about the civilian casualties in Rah-e-Raast Operation and said the locals were facing problems due to curfew.
He held former president Musharraf responsible for militancy and terrorism in the country and called for his trial under Article 6 of the Constitution.
Senator Semeen Siddiqui said that the writ of the government was being challenged and the government was left with no option but to launch military operation.
She said that the Armed Forces were fighting an insurgency, adding, We should provide them full support.
Meanwhile, Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek during the proceedings of the Upper House directed the formation of a committee to ensure that Pashtoon students of Jamshoro University took their exams at an appropriate time.
Naek directed this in response to a point of order of Haji Muhammad Adeel from ANP who said that Pashtoon students had been evicted from the hostels of the varsity and could not take their exams.
Leader of the House Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that he had talked to the Sindh Chief Minister who had assured the safety and security of the affected students.
He said the Vice Chancellor of the university had also assured that these students could take their examination at a later stage and had been provided a separate hostel.
Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira assured the Upper House that all the government employees sacked during Pakistan Peoples Partys previous regime would be restored.
Speaking on a point of order from Raza Rabbani, he said that a ministerial committee had held its meeting a couple of days ago and deliberated the matters relating to restoration of employees in petroleum ministrys related organisations.
He said that Sui Southern Gas Pipeline Ltd (SSGPL) had told the government that it did not have enough funds to pay for the restored employees.
The Finance Ministry, he added, would release the requisite money and those employees would be given their salaries till the month of June.
Earlier, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani had said that a handful of bureaucrats were flouting the government orders by not reinstating the politically victimised employees in various departments and organisations.
The Senate also admitted an adjournment motion for debate from Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed over highly provocative statements made by US officials regarding Pakistans civilian government.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan did not oppose the motion and the date for debate would be decided later by the House.
Professor Khurshid stated that US officials including President Barack Obama were playing up the Pakistans Armed Forces while downplaying the civilian government.
Dr Babar Awan said that although he was not opposing the motion yet anything by the Western media should not be taken as gospel truth.
Speaking on a point of order, Senator Syed Zafar Ali Shah expressed his concern over the postponement of annual Bari Imam Urs and said that the local administration should be asked to announce a fresh date.
He said that thousands of people got their livelihood during the Urs while thousands more devotees came to the shrine of the saint from all over Pakistan to pay their tributes.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari agreed with his colleague and said the local administration would be asked not to postpone the Urs indefinitely.
On a separate point of order, Humayun Khan said that the sale of railway properties in the country at a time when the real estate prices were down was inappropriate.
He said that he was feeling some sort of scam in the sale at present time when much more profit could be earned if these properties were sold later when the real estate prices would become better.
Federal Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour ruled out the privatisation of Pakistan Railways (PR) saying that it was against the manifesto of PPP.
The Minister said that, however, a cabinet committee had been constituted to privatise some of PRs services.
So far the committee has not reached on any conclusion whether or not to privatise any of the services, He said while replying to a calling attention notice of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani.
The Minister said that the railways needed allocation of more funds and investment, as most of the railways tracks were outdated, locomotives and carriages had already outlived.
He regretted that an amount of Rs 11 billion had been allocated for PR in budget 2009-10, which was twice less than the amount allocated for general transport infrastructure.
Earlier, Senator Rabbani on a calling attention notice said that privatisation of PR would contribute nothing to national exchequer rather it would further create problems.
Senator Gulshan Saeed on a calling attention notice said that House should discuss trade between India and Afghanistan through Pakistan.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that there was misperception that India and Afghanistan would use Pakistans land route for trade.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 09-Jun-2009 here.