ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Interior Thursday took serious notice of a recent statement of State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi that 75 percent female students and 45 percent male students in capital’s educational institutions had been found drug addicts and sought an explanation from the Ministry of Interior about veracity of the claim.

The committee that met with Senator Rehman Malik in chair sought a report from the Ministry of Interior about authenticity of the figures quoted by the state minister and directed the secretary interior to appear before it in next meeting. The committee also asked from the interior secretary about what was the source of information?

State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi, the other day, while speaking at Islamabad Police Lines, had said that a survey conducted in the educational institutions of Islamabad had found that 75 percent female students and 45 percent male students were using drugs like crystal meth and ice. The statement raised serious questions over the authenticity of the survey conducted by a local NGO and also caused an outcry from the parents. Some critics say that the figure was exaggerated.

“We all are concerned by the statement of the minister,” said Rehman Malik adding that figures were highly disturbing and the government should take serious action. He further said that news had spread uncertainty among the parents of students. He asked the ministry to brief the committee about the action it had taken after knowing such drastic figures of drug addicts in educational institutions.

Arrests on charges of terrorism

The committee held a detailed and thorough discussion on the number of persons arrested on charges of involvement in terrorist activities in the country during last five years. Senator Usman Kakar had asked this question in the Senate House which was later referred to committee for verification of figure. The committee was told that during the last five years, 16022 people were arrested from across the country, 2525 were convicted and awarded punishments and 376 were awarded death penalty for involvement in terrorist activities. It was told that from Punjab 1993, Sindh 2728, Balochistan 147, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1967, Gilgit Baltistan 126 and from Islamabad 61 people had been arrested on charges of terrorism during last five years.

The committee directed the Ministry of Interior to confirm the figures and apprise it with fresh data and inform it how many such persons arrested and convicted belonged to erstwhile FATA area. The chair questioned from the ministry that the committee had received complaints that even political workers were being arrested for terrorism charges and directed it to clarify the situation.

Detention of TLP activists

The committee had sought report from RPO Rawalpindi and Commissioner Rawalpindi on the issue of unlawful detention of employees of various restaurants in Rawalpindi. The commissioner and regional police officer Rawalpindi told the meeting that city administration had arrested 800 suspects due to their affiliation with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to maintain law and avoid unrest in the twin cities in wake of sit-in call by the religious group. Senator Javed Abbasi alleged that the administration even detained employees of city’s restaurants. The meeting raised a question how Rawalpindi administration transferred the suspects from various jails of Punjab and tasked Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed to come up with detailed investigation on the issue.

Complaints against private firm’s visa services

Senator Malik directed the Ministry of Interior, passport office and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to submit a detailed report on Gerry’s visa service and the legal position of its operations in Pakistan in the wake of complaints against it. “The committee has received a number of complaints regarding Gerry’s visa service and it has been decided to hold an inquiry regarding handing over of passports and other documents to the private company,” Malik said.

Kidnapping of citizens for ransom by Afghan gang

The meeting discussed the issue of kidnapping Haji Abduallah and his brothers for ransom from Peshawar. The victim Haji Abdullah who appeared before the committee said that a gang of Afghan nationals residing in Peshawar kidnapped him and his brothers for ransom not for once but many times and they tortured them and chopped off their fingers during confinement. He told the committee that he had paid a heavy amount as ransom to the kidnappers and now he was receiving threat calls from them for lodging FIR against them. He told the committee that leaders of the gang namely Afzal, Sami and Bangol successfully got bails from Peshawar High Court. The committee asked the KP chief secretary to send the matter to a military court and provide security to the victims and their families till the court proceedings were underway. The meeting directed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to intervene and conduct a thorough investigation into the matter

Malik also sought report from all provincial home secretaries about properties purchased by Afghani nationals in different cities of their respective provinces.

Abduction of 13-year-old girl Haroon Bibi

While discussing abduction of 13-year-old girl Haroon Bibi from Sargodha, the committee gave four-week time to Punjab police to complete its investigation. The police were directed to coordinate with concerned authorities in Balochistan for identification of the girl in the container which was reportedly found with abducted kids being trafficked.