ISLAMABAD - The government informed the Senate on Thursday that it has raised issue of ‘Free Karachi’ advertisements in leading US newspapers with the American government.

Replaying about a call attention notice, State Minister for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said the government had taken up the matter with the US State Department and it had assured Pakistan that they continued to support Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as strongly as possible. ”It has transpired that the campaigns were funded by anti-Pakistan lobbies in US,” he said.

Besides, he said, the issue was also taken up with US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells during his recent visit to Pakistan who also assured Pakistan that such campaigns against Pakistan were not acceptable.

The minister said that Pakistani community in US have also been mobilised by Pakistan Missions there and their response was encouraging. He said that the country had no legal option to drag the newspaper to the court, or else they could have done that too.

He said that India was behind such malicious campaigns against Pakistan, and it was earlier found giving away $3000 to each taxi for carrying anti-Pakistan posters, but “we would like to make it clear that the enemy will not succeed in its nefarious motives.”

Speaking on a point of public importance, Senator Farhatullah Babar called upon chairman Senate to announce his ruling on trichotomy of powers reserved by the chair after a comprehensive debate in which lawmakers had expressed their apprehension over the shifting power balance away from the elected parliament.

He said that power was continuously shifting away from the civilian structures of the state as invisible forces were relentlessly busy re-writing the political and parliamentary narrative—a reference to the powerful military establishment. He added that it was critical that an appropriate ruling should be announced to put on notice these elements ahead of the forthcoming Senate elections.

Babar said that the continuing shrinking of civilian and parliamentary space and its taking over by invisible forces and civil-military bureaucratic complex was dangerous and must be curbed.

Referring to the remarks of Senator Mohsin Leghari that sugar barons controlled the political narrative, Senator Babar said that one section stood at the apex of power pyramid beyond every other group which was also not accountable. This is a matter of serious concern that needs to be addressed.

“I do not expect that the Chair's ruling will stop the slide overnight but the expression of consolidated opinion of the house might help in injecting some sanity all around,” he said.

Chairman Raza Rabbani said that he had almost finalised his ruling on the issue and would announce it soon. Raza Rabbani also invited the Senator Babar to his chamber on Friday for discussion on the issue.

On the other hand, the government admitted in the house that it had failed to revamp the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) despite all-out efforts. Responding to a calling attention notice by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman about closure of PIA routes to Oman and Kuwait, parliamentary affairs minister Sheikh Aftab said that due to heavy loss incurred to PIA, the government had no option but to shut PIA routes to New York first and then to Oman and Kuwait.

He also said that the out of total 36 planes, PIA had only 12 planes while the remaining planes were on dry lease. He added that efforts were being made to revamp PIA as a new CEO has been appointed by the prime minister.