ISLAMABAD  - The lawmakers from treasury and opposition in Monday’s national assembly session warned the government to treat locust on emergency basis, otherwise it would prove more fatal than COVID-19. The members were unanimously dissatisfied with the measures taken by the government so far to deal with devastating locust attacks in different parts of the country.

The devastating effects due to locust attack on crops might turn the country into Ethiopia, if proper and immediate measures were not taken, they felt.

However, the government side made an attempt to ensure that a mechanism had been developed to fight the challenge of locust attack.

PML-N’s MNA Riaz Pirzada, initiating the debate on damaging effects of locusts attack, said that the government had so far not taken effective measures to control locust attack. “I had warned one-and- half-year before the locust could be dangerous for the country but no proper measures were taken,” he said.

PML-N’s parliamentary leader Khwaja Muhammad Asif asked the concerned department to share the detail of write-off loans of APTMA. “Step-motherly treatment with the agriculture sector is alarming for the country,” he commented.

Making noise by beating drums to avoid attack of locusts was a very old technique, says Naveed Qamar

PPP-P’s Naveed Qamar said that there was a need to deal with this matter on an emergency basis before it was too late. “Making noise by beating drums to avoid attack of locusts was a very old technique, now this way would not serve the real purpose,” he said.

PTI’s MNA from Southern Punjab Sana Ullah Khan Masti Khel raised a question about the policy matters of the government. “Where the policy is being framed? Is this parliament a debating club?,” said the member in a taunting way. “Government needs to avoid situations that lead us [agriculturists] to stage sit-in,” he said. He asked to form a committee to come up with some result oriented decision for the agriculture department.

However, Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam said a mechanism has been developed to fight the challenge posed by locusts.

“Approval has been given for purchase of six new aircrafts to be used in anti-locust operation,” he said, mentioning Pakistan army had already provided five helicopters for this purpose. Eight thousand officers and Jawan of Pakistan Army were working in close coordination with the administration in the districts affected by the crop munching pets, he added.

The Minister said China had also donated $4.9 million to Pakistan including pesticides and ground sprayers to fight these swarms. The Minister said that thirty-one entomologists were already engaged with the ministry while thirty-one more would be hired to reinforce efforts against locusts. He said the locusts have affected districts in all the four provinces and statistics in this regard have been sought from the provinces.

STRANDED OVERSEAS

PAKISTANi ISSUE

About stranded Pakistanis in different parts of countries, the members from opposition asked the government to take measures for the stranded Pakistan. They floated proposals of charter planes or C-130 to bring them back. The government said that around thirty five thousand stranded Pakistanis had been brought back to the country. Minister for Communication Murad Saeed pointed out that there were over 122,000 overseas Pakistanis who wanted to return to the country. He said 73 dead bodies from UAE and 46 from Saudi Arabia had also been brought back.

Earlier, BNP-Mengal chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal said there was a need to resolve the issues of Balochistan without any delay. There are death squads to work against the political workers, he said. “Who will give a response about mass grave areas? Will the massacre of Balochistan come to end?,” he asked. Another senior member from Balochistan Khalid Magsi said that there was a need to remove the sense of deprivation from the people of Balochistan.

PML-N’s MNA Javed Latif, on a point of order, raised a concern that Azad Kashmir was not in the map of Pakistan. “Was it a mistake or deliberate attempt? What is the real policy of this government about Pakistan?,” he raised questions.

Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Baber Awan, responding to the concerns raised by the members said that Kashmir issue need to be resolved as per the passed resolutions of United Nations and through plebiscite. He ensured to check from the relevant office about the TV program where the incomplete MAP was presented. The Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs also laid before the House the Annual Reports 2019, for the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The COVID-19 (Prevention of Smuggling) Ordinance, 2020 and Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 were laid before the house . The Parliamentary Secretary also laid before the House, The Pakistan Single Window Bill, 2020.