ISLAMABAD - At a time when Pakistan’s security agencies are tackling foreign meddling, notably of RAW’s interference in the country, a senior PPP senator on Wednesday offered a suggestion apparently to help deal with the propaganda and unsubstantiated allegations against Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

Against the backdrop of human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud’s murder, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said on the floor of the Upper House that Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies should be brought under the ambit of the law as a way to protect them from unsubstantiated allegations of involvement in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. While the purpose of his suggestion could be interpreted differently, his suggestion did imply the agencies were not in the ambit of law at the moment.

The remarks by Senator Farhatullah Babar came as the House adopted a unanimous resolution, moved by Senator Nasreen Jalil of MQM, condemning the target killing of Ms Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi by unidentified killers and demanding to bring to book her murderers.

The MQM recently faced allegations of abetting RAW to create instability in the country. Party chief Altaf Hussain’s reaction, in which he came down on the armed forces, added to the political firestorm. Altaf tendered an unconditional apology the next day.

The PPP and the MQM are also political allies in Sindh. In the previous government of the PPP, which underlined political reconciliation, Karachi saw a rise in street killings, with virtually no action improving the situation.

The Senate’s resolution reads: "She (Sabeen) offered a public place in the form of T2F for dissenting voices. This House salutes her courage."

Senator Farhatullah Babar recalled that Sabeen through her NGO made available a platform for expression of dissenting views and discussion of issues like the missing persons of Balochistan. He added that the rights activist was assassinated when she was returning from a discussion on the topic of 'un-silencing Balochistan' where Mama Qadeer had also been invited.

"It can be an isolated incident but a few weeks ago LUMS management in Lahore too had been forced to cancel a similar event to highlight the issue of missing persons in Balochistan by the officials of intelligence agencies. The incidents of kidnapping, killing and dumping in Balochistan needed to be investigated and addressed,” he said.

He said that the Commission on Enforced Disappearances had also asked for bringing agencies under the ambit of the law and taking forward its report to the Senate Committee on Human Rights last year, and even proposed draft legislation for the purpose. The draft legislation, he said, had been forwarded to the government, but it never responded.

"The most important thing was to bring all 33 security and intelligence agencies under the ambit of the law," he said, adding that unless this was done, fingers would be raised towards them. "To resolve the Sabeen assassination case, intelligence agencies should be brought under the law. The issue is not of un-silencing Balochistan but of un-silencing Pakistan," he said.

He also called for making public the reports of various commissions set up in the past to investigate various incidents of grave nature, including the raid on Osama bin Laden hideout in Abbottabad, the assassination of journalist Saleem Shehzad and the long-forgotten Ojhri ammunition depot fire in Rawalpinid."

Un-silencing Balochistan requires un-silencing Pakistan and that in turn requires two things: bring intelligence agencies under the ambit of law and make public all reports of the commissions, he concluded.

State Minister Sheikh Aftab responding to the call attention notice said that Sindh Police and Rangers were doing their best to bring peace in Karachi and Rs2 million bounty had been announced for the arrest of Sabeen’s killers.

The House of Federation (the new name included in the logo of Senate with the approval of House on Wednesday) adopted another unanimous resolution, moved by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed of the PML-Q, which condemned the bid to malign Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) through a contest of blasphemous sketches in the US. It also urged the government of Pakistan to take strong notice of this blasphemy and immediately take up this issue with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"The Senate, representing the sentiments of the people of Pakistan, and the Muslim World as a whole, also demands strict legislation, similar to that about the Holocaust, be enacted in Western countries so that action, under the law, can be taken against all those who malign Islam or the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)," the resolution says.

It also appealed to Muslims not to react to such grave provocations against their faith so as not to fall into any conspiratorial trap and urged the United Nations to ensure that freedom of expression is not abused to malign any religion or hurt the sentiments of any people, ethnic group or religion as proposed by Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House respectively. Deputy Chairman Ghafoor Haideri asked for summoning the US ambassador in Pakistan to the Foreign Office to record protest against the blasphemous event.

Barrister Muhammad Saif of the MQM underlined the importance of practical steps against blasphemous publications, saying the government should move a similar resolution in the UN General Assembly for seeking action against blasphemous acts.

Responding to a point of order, State Minister for Religious Affairs Peer Hasnat said that the ministry had not made any changes in the Haj application form and the provision of sect has been there for the last 20 years to provide special facilities to some sects during Haj.

Speaking on an adjournment motion, the lawmakers across the aisle asked for completion of K-4 water supply project in Karachi to meet the water needs of the metropolitan. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Rs25 billion was the total cost of the project and the federal government was ready to release half of the amount as announced by the PM but the provincial government should also make available rest of the funds.