ISLAMABAD   -  The National Assembly on Friday could not conduct its business due to lack of required strength in the house.

BNP (Mengal) lawmaker Agha Ahsan Baloch, with the onset of the proceedings, pointed out lack of required strength in the house.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri immediately adjourned the proceedings, as hardly fifty lawmakers from both sides were present in the house.

Normally, the chair suspends the house for half hour, if an MNA draws the attention on quorum at the beginning of the proceedings.

The opposition lawmakers, without taking the floor, loudly requested the deputy speaker not to adjourn the house, as the members would soon reach the house.

Dozens of lawmakers from both sides of aisle were seen hurriedly entering the house but the chair had already announced to adjourn the house till Monday (5pm). As many as 45 agenda items were in the ‘order of the day’ but the house could not take a single agenda item.

Former Prime Minister/ PML-N MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, talking to media, criticised the PTI government for immediately adjourning the house. “I think for the first time, the government side pointed out quorum, which led to suspension of the house,” the former prime minister said. Another PML-N MNA Ahsan Iqbal, talking to media, said that the lawmakers from both sides had to discuss law and order situation in the country.

He said most of the roads leading to the parliament were closed. The lawmakers were coming in the house to attend the sitting but the chair adjourned the proceedings.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who is appearing in the house on production order, was all set to discuss unrest in the country. Other opposition members from opposition parties were also in a planning to come down hard on government for allegedly mishandling the situation.

The government side the other day (Thursday) claimed in the National Assembly that negotiation with protestors were going on and soon nation will hear a good news.

However, the dialogue between government and the protestors could not prove successful. As the TLP leadership announced a countrywide wheel-jam strike against the acquittal of a Christian woman in a blasphemy case.

The proceedings of the National Assembly will now start on Monday evening.

10,811 PAKISTANIS LANGUISHING IN

FOREIGN JAILS

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi on Friday said that out of 10,811 Pakistanis imprisoned abroad, around 3,000 are detained in Saudi prisons.

In a written reply to National Assembly, he said majority of Pakistanis has been detained on drug related charges.

Out of total imprisoned around 45 per cent has been detained on drug smuggling, 15 per cent on theft, 12 per cent on forgery, 8 per cent on immoral crimes, 3 per cent on murder, 2 per cent in brawl while 15 per cent has been detained on miscellaneous charges.

The minister that said Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats and only those who overstay or get involved in illegal activities or have travelled to GCC countries on Azad visa face problems.

He said that Saudi Arabia’s 70 per cent economy is based an oil and due to slump in oil prices and political tensions in the region, several development projects have either been shelved or curtailed by the Saudi government. Increase in Iqama fees, introduction of dependent levy, VAT, increase in prices of POL and electricity have increased the cost of living exponentially for residents in KSA. The implementation of Saudisation policy has prevented expats including Pakistanis from entering many professions.

He said during 2016 and 2017 some construction sector companies including Saudi Oger, and Saad construction defaulted due to economic slump and failed to pay wages to workers from various countries including 9,360 Pakistani workers. The workers were stuck up without salaries and expired Iqamas. The missions facilitated the final exit and free tickets of 4,810 workers. Coordination with different companies was done to relocate the workers and more than 4,548 were facilitated in transferring to new employers within the Kingdom.

Answering another question, quoting a UNODC report  “Global Study on the Smuggling of Migrants”, launched in June 2018 in Vienna, the minister said in 2016 alone a minimum of 2.5 million migrant were smuggled globally along different routes, generating between $5.5 to $7 billion in criminal proceeds.

Among others, globally South Asia is one of the main areas of origin and most popular route is Afghanistan to Pakistan/lran-Turkey and then onwards to Europe through the “East Mediterranean route, which is through Turkey to Greece. In this regard, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta are identified as “transit cities”. The study also underlines that in addition to Afghan refugees/nationals, many Pakistani nationals also use this land route. He said during 2018 alone 30,000 Pakistani irregular migrants apprehended in Turkey.

 

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN & Atif Khan