ISLAMABAD -  Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Friday expressed resentment over the absence of ministers and warned of banning their entry into the house.

He also ruled for seeking a policy statement from the interior ministry on the issue of arbitrary arrest of Turkish nationals and their forcible repatriation to Turkey in contravention of international covenants.

Also on Friday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution strongly denouncing illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India and deploring silence of international community on unabated state terrorism unleashed against the Kashmiri people.

“The ministers should tender their resignations if they cannot attend the Senate proceedings,” an enraged Rabbani said, talking on the issue of perpetual absence of most of the ministers from the upper house of the parliament.

He said that the house was informed of State Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division’s (CADD) illness but later he was found addressing on the television.

The chairman also sternly inquired about the ministers of Energy, Religious Affairs and Housing.

“There is a large army of ministers and advisers but they do not attend Senate meetings. If the prime minister can come in the Senate for answering queries, why the ministers can’t?” he asked.

“What is the minister of energy doing in Karachi? One minister is in Karachi and the other is in Bannu,” he remarked.

“If the ministers did not change their attitude, they will be banned from entering the Senate under Article 13 of the House,” Rabbani warned.

Turkish teachers’ repatriation

Chairman Raza Rabbani ruled on Friday that the facts of the observations of Senator Farhatullah Babar on the forcible repatriation of Turkish teachers and their families be provided to the interior minister to give a policy statement on the issue.

During discussion on issues of public importance, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that nearly 300 Turkish nationals in Pakistan were facing grave human rights abuses by way of arbitrary arrests and forcible repatriation to Turkey in contravention of international covenants that Pakistan has signed and ratified.

He said that Turkish President Erdogon and Turkey were great friends of Pakistan but warned against Pakistan becoming a party to political infighting within Turkey. “We must not forget how we burnt our fingers by meddling in the internal affairs of other countries,” he said.

Farhatullah said that Turkey had obtained forcible repatriation from Myanmar and Saudi Arabia and asked whether Pakistan also had joined ranks of these countries in forcible repatriation.

He said that last month the former head of the Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan was first abducted along with his family and then forcibly repatriated through a Turkish police contingent that had flown in by a special Turkish plane.

The senator said that the foreign minister during US visit early this month had assured that there will be no repatriations as long as the Turkish teachers had stay orders from the courts and possessed asylum seeker certificate of the UNHCR, and asked whether Khawaja Asif was in charge of the policy.

He said that the situation had become far more disturbing during the past months as some Turkish families had new born babies who are without passports, the passports of some Turkish nationals have expired and the citizenship of some people has been revoked by the Turkish government.

Farhatullah said that Pakistan had signed and ratified several human rights covenants and handing over of Turkish nationals in this manner was a grave violation of our commitments and called for reversal of the decision.

Kashmir resolution

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution strongly denouncing illegal occupation of Kashmir by India and deplorable silence of international community over the human rights abuses there.

The resolution moved by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq stated that India boasts itself as the largest democracy of the world but was denying the most fundamental human rights to the Kashmiri people.

It said Pakistan has always made efforts to hold multilateral and bilateral dialogue with India to resolve the dispute but it continuously rejected such proposals.

It said that the UN, human rights organisations and the US administration must understand and fulfil their longstanding commitment to the amicable resolution of Kashmir dispute according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

Speaking on the occasion, members from both sides supported the resolution and condemned the ruling BJP for a policy of targeting the armless Kashmiris waging peaceful struggle for their right to self-determination.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar supported the resolution with a warning note that Pakistan should refrain from converting the peaceful and indigenous struggle of Kashmiris into cross-border terrorism.

He criticised the former military ruler and President General (r) Pervez Musharaff for causing great damage to the struggle of Kashmiris by giving it the colour of cross-border terrorism through Kargil misadventure.

PPP senator demanded a treason case against Musharraf for causing damage to the Kashmiris’ struggle. “Musharraf must be brought back and tried and punished not only for subverting the constitution but also for gravely undermining the Kashmir cause,” he demanded.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed expressed regret for not forcefully putting up before the US Secretary of State during his recent visit to Pakistan the case of Indian RAW’s senior officer arrested from Balochistan for being responsible for cross-border terrorism in Pakistan.

He fully supported the resolution condemning the massive human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir.

Prior to suspension of rules to allow tabling the resolution in the House, Chairman Rabbani criticised the United Nations for not playing its due role. He said that Pakistan should not rely on the UN because it had failed to resolve the two longest pending issues the Kashmir and Palestine.

Other issues

During the Question Hour the Senate was informed that a comprehensive programme of integration of contemporary and religious studies has been initiated in religious seminaries to make the students of these institutions productive citizens of the country.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir told the house during question hour that the government was disbursing salaries to the teachers of the seminaries who teach English, Maths, Social Studies and General Science.

He said recommendations have been framed to review the curriculum of the seminaries and National Ulema and Mashaikh Council established to check fanatical attitudes and promote interfaith and intersect harmony.

Minister of State for Human Rights Usman Ibrahim said a toll-free helpline 1099 has been established to provide free legal advice and referral services to the victims of human rights violations for proper redressal of their grievances.

Minister of State for Petroleum Jam Kamal Khan told the house that LNG was being imported from Qatar under a government to government arrangement.

Senate chairman admitted an adjournment motion moved by Azam Khan Swati for discussion on financial challenges facing the country. The house will now meet on Monday at 3:30pm.