ISLAMABAD - Following the video leaks of two under-trial political personalities, a Senate panel yesterday decided to examine the legal aspects of filming and saving the statements of suspects.

“The committee would examine whether the video statement of any under trial suspect recorded by the law enforcement agency was permissible under the law and if yes, then for how long it could be used as evidence,” Rehman Malik said while chairing the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

The chair appreciated the statement of Interior Minister Ch Nisar Khan that the leaking videos were illegal and unethical. “The statement given before the police has no value, but it only can be used for a media trial,” Malik maintained.

The decision of the Senate committee came hours before Ch Nisar told the National Assembly that the provincial governments were responsible for the leaks.

The interior minister was replying to the allegation of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that he was responsible for the leak.

Last week, TV channels aired two video statements of former PPP minister Dr Asim blaming former president Asif Zardari and Owais Muzaffar for corruption.

Another 37-second clip of Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker Minhaj Qazi was also aired alleging an ex-lawmaker of his party was involved in the murder of Hakim Said.

Earlier, the video statements of Saulat Mirza, convicted killer of former managing director of the Karachi Electric Supply Company Shahid Hamid, and Khalid Shamim, a suspect in Dr Imran Farooq murder case, had also been leaked. PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi also raised the matter of a videotape containing order to kill ANP leader Shahi Syed.

The chair appreciated the armed forces and the defence institutions for implementation on National Action Plan (NAP) and said the civilian institutions have failed to deliver over the matter.

“The ministries of interior, education and religious affairs and the provinces should focus their attention on NAP implementation and regretted that the seminary reforms authority could not be formed as yet.

Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman insisted that there was reasonable progress on all 20 points of NAP and rejected the notion that civilian side was not doing its part. He said work on mapping seminaries in all the provinces was underway and the provinces were close to completing their work.

Rehman Malik, however, pointed out that banned outfits like Sipah-e-Muhammad were openly organising public rallies in all the provinces. “They should have been acted against under the NAP and sent to jails”, he remarked.

About the condition of women prisons, the chair said that these jails prisoners were maltreated. “The lock-ups for women are close to male lock-ups, making female prisoners prone to assaults by male inmates,” he said.

He was of the view that there should be separate jails for females across the country.

The meeting witnessed an interesting conversation between Senator Javed Abbasi and Malik while discussing living conditions in jails when the former said that the condition of jails should be improved as no one knew who and when could go behind the bars. “We (politicians) talk about improving jail conditions while in prison, but forget about it when are free,” he said.

Malik also referred to his experience of living in jail and said the jails conditions were bad. He also pointed out that there was no prison in the federal capital as yet.

A representative of Anti Narcotics Force informed that strict steps were being taken to contain drug peddling and disclosed that as many as 16 foreigners involved in drug smuggling had recently been nabbed. He said these included seven Nigerians, three Afghans and one Pilipino. He said that ANF had destroyed confiscated narcotics of millions.