ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Interior Tuesday sought a briefing from the ministries of interior and overseas Pakistanis on human smuggling being carried out from Pakistan to some European countries while using the route of Libya.

The committee that met in the chair of Senator Rehman Malik took a very serious notice of the illegal immigration being carried out by human smugglers and expressed sorrows over the incident of boat that capsized along the coast of Libya last Friday killing 16 Pakistanis who wanted to enter Europe illegally. 

The chair directed the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to brief the committee on the incident in next meeting. He asked the Ministry of Interior to apprise the committee as to what actions so far have been taken against human smugglers involved in this illegal business. 

He also called upon the government to move an amendment in the law in Immigration Ordinance of 1979 immediately to ensure stringent punishment to human smugglers and directed the Ministry of Interior to initiate a severe crackdown on them countrywide.  Human trafficking and human smuggling is a condemnable crime in which not only precious lives are being lost but also bringing a bad name to the country worldwide, he added.   

The meeting was attended among others by senators Javed Abbasi, Sardar Fateh Hassani, Shahi Syed and Muhammad Ali Khan Saif as members, and senators Rubina Khalid, Siraj ul Haq, Karim Ahmed Khawaja and Saher Kamran attended the meeting as movers of their respective proposed bills. The meeting was also attended by Chief Commissioner Islamabad Zulfiqar Haider, secretary interior, members of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and officials from Ministry of Law and others.

Taking notice of a news item in which it was claimed that adulterated milk and dead meat are being sold in different parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the committee had summoned Chief Commissioner Islamabad Zulfiqar Haider to the meeting for a briefing over the issue wherein he denied the news and said that Islamabad administration had taken action against those who were found involved in the criminal activity.

Rehman Malik said that it was the foremost responsibility of the government to provide pure and quality food to the people. The meeting was informed by the chief commissioner Islamabad that there was no formal food authority under Islamabad administration to check substandard food item being sold. The chair advised that food act enacted in 1960 had yet to be implemented in the capital. He directed that till the food act was not fully implemented in Islamabad as it was pending with the law ministry, the chief commissioner and Islamabad administration will have to check the food quality particularly the entry points as if dead meat was not being supplied to the capital city.

The committee considered and discussed in details “The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Protection of Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2017 moved by Senator Rubina Khalid and expressed dissatisfaction on the briefing given by Council of Islamic Ideology as the Council representatives confused the members by their feeble arguments and directed that Chairman CII should be present in the next meeting. Committee decided a joint meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Human Rights on the said Bill to decide whether the proposed law should be passed or referred to the house.   

Rehman Malik directed that a clause should be included in the bill suggesting punishment for the parents who expel their children out of home if born as transgender.

The Committee discussed and passed “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2018 moved by Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja and committee appreciated him for bringing the bill.

The committee also considered and discussed “The Islamabad Capital Territory (Prohibition of Interest on Private Loan) 2018 moved by Senator Siraj ul Haq and referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology for input. The committee referred “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 moved by Senator Murtaza Wahab and Senator Saher Kamran to Ministry of Interior and Law for their input and views on the bill.

The committee discussed non-implementation of the recommendation of the committee made in its last meeting to the Ministry of Interior to suspend the notification seeking ban on automatic arms licences. The chair questioned the Ministry of Interior as to why the committee directions were not implemented. 

The secretary interior told the meeting that the decision of cancellation of licences of automatic arms was taken in the cabinet meeting and thus the Cabinet Division had been informed about the direction of this committee as his ministry cannot overturn the decision being taken in a cabinet meeting. The meeting directed the ministry that this committee should be informed prior to February 13th about cancellation of the said notification otherwise this committee will move the issue to the house. The chair directed that Principal Secretary to Prime Minister and Secretary Cabinet should be present in next meeting to apprise the committee about the issue and meanwhile Senator Sardar Fateh Hassani will pursue the matter on behalf of the committee.