ISLAMABAD -  Opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly on Thursday raised serious concern over the recent US drone strike in Kurram Agency, suggesting the government to take up the issue at the United Nations, which was in sheer violation of country’s sovereignty.

They said that the government should not tolerate violation of country’s sovereignty in any part of the country as this could also happen in urban areas as well if overlooked.

“Why the government is tolerating this. This violation should be taken up at the UN forum, as God forbid, this can also happen in Islamabad,” said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Shafqat Mehmood while speaking on a point of order, calling it “a preparing ground to make propaganda against Pakistan”. Mehmood said that drone strikes had also occurred in other areas in the past. “Mere condemnation is not enough and it should be taken up properly,” he said while speaking on the last day of 51st NA session.

Pakistan People’s Party MNA Shazia Marri proposed that the drone attack on country’s soil should also be discussed in the House.

Marri also raised the issue of a Pakistani citizen, Zulfiqar Ali, who is languishing in a jail in Indonesia. “The government should take up it with the Indonesian president who will be addressing the joint sitting of Pakistan Parliament on Friday,” she said. “Zulfiqar Ali should be brought back as he had been declared an innocent,” she said.

On the same issue, Minister for Foreign Affairs Khwaja Asif had recently said in his tweets that “PM will take up the matter of the Pakistani prisoner in Indonesia with the visiting dignity ...requesting for repatriation in view of the terminal illness of the prisoner”. The government side, however, did not respond to both the points raised in the House.

Regarding the status of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) showing it as part of India instead of Pakistan in international maps, Minister for Safron Qadir Baloch said that there was no change in the UN’s website about the map of the particular area.

Opposition lawmakers, through a call-attention notice, drew the attention of the chair that GB was being depicted as part of India in all internationally recognized maps available for higher research students. “If any country has done it, we can raise the matter...We should be vigilant on such issues,” he said mentioning that anti-Pakistan elements were behind such ‘evil moves’.

“India leaves no stone unturned to embarrass Pakistan at the world forum. However, the Foreign Office is alert to such matters and is taking steps to protect the country’s interests,” he said.

JUI-F lawmaker Naeema Kishwar raised the issue of a controversial syllabus for Afghan refugee children. “The Afghan children are being taught a controversial book, which says India a best friend,” she said and further pointed out that GB has been declared part of India in that book. NA Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that proper action should be taken after probing the matter.

Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that all should be united on the national sovereignty. “The media should play a responsible role,” he said mentioning that there should be a debate on the matter of issuing ‘visa-on-arrival’.

Treasury benches Mian Abdul Manan on a point of order said that a criminal (alleged rapist and murderer of Zainab) has been arrested from Kasur. “The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government should also arrest the criminal involved in a same nature of crime in Mardan,” he said while refereeing to the rape and murder of Asma.

The House, on the last day of the session, was abruptly prorogued by the chair when a PPP member pointed out the quorum.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab laid before the House the first quarterly report of the State Bank of Pakistan on the state of the economy.

PTI’s Shireen Mazari, with the onset of proceedings, pointed out the lack of quorum. The House was suspended for half-an-hour due to the thin attendance.

 

 

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN