Former Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar, on Thursday, took assembly floor to criticize government’s move of issuing visa on arrival to tourist from 24 countries. He criticized the government move for security reasons. However, once again he failed to give any documents or proofs to back his argument that how tourists can be a security concern. It has almost become a norm for any person to gain people’s sympathies by playing “national interest” card.

However, the counter-argument of the incumbent interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, is more logical that security concerns should not bar or restrict foreign tourists in the country. Pakistan’s tourism industry has suffered enormously in last two decades because of poor law and order situation. The government’s success in improving the security situation in the country has increased, however little, of foreign tourists. Hopes are that Pakistan’s tourism industry can once again stand on its feet because of better law and order. The government should take more of such steps to encourage foreign tourists in the country.

Also, ideally Nisar’s emphasis on bilateral parity between MPs of Pakistan and other states should be the state’s practice. However, our present circumstances do not allow us so. This was not the state practice even when Nisar was running the ministry.

Nevertheless, Nisar’s concerns about activities of INGOs are not unreasonable. In the past INGOs have been abused by some rogue element. Some employees highjack the mandate and protocols. However, this does not mean that state should react in a paranoid fashion. Instead of ordering the INGOs to wrap up their relief and development projects, it’s better to devise a mechanism where individuals cannot abuse objectives of such organizations.

If these INGOs wrap up their operations, a lot of areas in social, education, health and economic sectors will be compromised. The government of Pakistan on its own cannot allocate resources to every sector of public importance. Instead of emotions, rational faculties should direct our decisions and criticisms.

The concerns raised by Nisar are well placed. We have seen in the past that liberal policies were abused because of which national security was compromised.  But Ahsan Iqbal’s explanations on the issues are well articulated and hold more weight than Nisar’s concerns.

However, it can be said that the issues raised on the floor were important and timely. The debate between the former and present interior ministers was a healthy one. It was full of information and issue-based. The assembly floor should be used for more such constructive debates.