ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament was informed on Friday that a proposal was under consideration to increase operation hours at Wagah Border to intensify trade between India and Pakistan but it would only be implanted after consultations with the relevant stakeholders, including Ministry of Defence.

Minister of Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan in his written reply to a question informed the Senate that commerce ministers of Pakistan and India in a meeting held in New Dehli on January 18, 2014 had reached an understanding to increase working hours at Wagah/Attari Border with the objective of round-the-clock operations. The purpose was to intensify and accelerate the process of trade normalisation between the two countries. The minister said that the proposal also reflected in the Joint Statement issued after the commerce ministers level meeting held in India. “So far, there is no increase in number of operational hours at Wagah land route...the proposal will be implemented after consultation, with the relevant stakeholders that includes Ministry of Defence,” the minister told the house.

The joint statement, attached with the reply of the minister, said that both ministers (India and Pakistan) reaffirmed the commitment of their governments to expeditiously establish trading relations and in this context to provide Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA), on a reciprocal basis. They decided to intensify and accelerate the process of trade normalization, liberalization and facilitation and to implement agreed measures before the end of February 2014.

To another question about the restoration of access of social media website, You Tube in the country, State Minister for IT Anusha Rehman informed that the main reason for not unblocking the You Tube was that the blasphemous content of controversial movie was present on https that could not be blocked. “Pakistan Telecommunication (PTA) cannot block any content present of https,” she remarked. Senator Osman Saifullah Khan had asked the question that if PTA could block the objectionable material from any website, then why Pakistanis were being deprived of the facility of You Tube. Anusha Rehman said, “ We are localising the Google and then we will have the domain of Google locally and after this government of Pakistan can determine what content could be taken and what could not be,” she said, adding that You Tube had been blocked on the orders of Supreme Court in 2012. The government in the reply told the house that government of Pakistan was in the process of providing Intermediary Liability Protection for Internet content providers through Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill, 2014 which will then be a consideration for localization of You Tube in Pakistan. The bill had been tabled on the floor of the National Assembly.

The government introduced the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess Ordinance, 2014 before the Upper House amid slogans of ‘same shame’ from the opposition benches. The House also amended the rule 270 of the Rules of the Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012 for the election of chairman of the first ever think tank of Senate comprising of sitting and former lawmakers of the house.

Opening the debate on the discussion on a report of the joint meeting of the committees of finance, water and power and petroleum and natural resources held on the issue of recent petroleum crisis, Senator Zahid Khan said that during the joint meeting, no one from the government’ three ministries was ready to accept responsibility of the whole crisis. “Even in the meeting, the ministers of finance and water and power did not turn up,” he said, adding the secretaries of the concerned ministries even did not respond properly of the queries and consequently the beggars and the media were held responsible for the whole crisis. He said when the ministries were asked why any one did not check the stock of oil, no one answered, “It looked that the three ministries and the government were not guilty of the crisis,” he said in a lighter tone.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan on a point of order said that the Chairman Senate in consultation with the Leader of the House and him had written a letter to all ministries for making sure necessary presence of the ministers and the secretaries in the standing committee. “We had also proposed in the letter that more than two meetings of any committee should not be summoned in each month,” he said, adding that the ministries were now using this letter as immunity to attend the more than two meetings.  Chairman Senate Nayyer Hussain Bokhari said that recommendations did not override rules and there were proper rules for the summoning of any meeting and the letter had only been written to make sure the presence of ministers in the committees. Later, the house was prorogued.