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Issue of army official’s disappearance to echo in Senate today

Issue of army official’s disappearance to echo in Senate today


ISLAMABAD: The Senate will discuss the mysterious disappearance of Lt Col Mohammad Habib (retd) on Friday (today), who is believed to be kidnapped by Indian spy agency RAW (Research and Analytical Wing) during his visit to Nepal in retaliation to award of death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told the House that FIRs (first information report) have been registered in Nepal and Pakistan over the disappearance of Lt Col Mohammad Habib (retd).

In the context of reports of India’s bid to exchange the retired military officer with serving Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav and hard-hitting statements by its Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, MQM Senator Ateeq Sheikh urged for admission of his adjournment motion and discussion in the House in this context.

Before the chair admitted the motion, the advisor briefly spoke and informed the House that the ex-military officer went missing some 5 kilometres away from Nepal’s border with India where his mobile phone was also found switched off.

He added those, who received him on the Kathmandu Airport were all Indians and his family had sought the UN body’s help in his recovery.

Combined opposition staged a token walkout from the House after expressing dissatisfaction over the reply given by State Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar, who gave no reason why Saudi Arabia refused to accept (polio) health certificates by Pakistanis.

“Why our certificates are not accepted, please, ask them,” she maintained. She said that so far only two cases of polio had been reported from Lodhran (Punjab) and Diamer (Gilgit-Baltistan) in 2017.

Senators Mohsin Aziz and Azam Swati of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had questioned why health certificates were not being accepted by Saudi Arabia.

Swati said, “This is not fair as Pakistan is an independent country and no one will be allowed to treat us like this.” After saying this he along with senators of other opposition parties staged a walkout from the house in protest.

The House proceedings were marred when Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Talah Mehmood pointed out the quorum. The chair ordered to ring the bells, after which with the re-entry of some treasury senators, the quorum was found in order.

The JUI-F’s Talah who had not pointed out quorum in the past, pointed out quorum and the reason behind it was believed to embarrass Rabbani who did not allow him to speak during the question hour on Dr Aafia Siddiqui issue. “You only care about yourself and don’t accord respect to others,” he charged while walking out of the House in protest.

Before him, JI’s Sirajul Haq wanted update on Dr Siddiqui who is in confinement in US.

Sartaj Aziz explained that efforts are still under way for her and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had written a letter to the then US President Barrack Obama during last days of his presidency, seeking mercy for her, which was rejected. He added among other things, she was constantly being provided counsellor’s access.

In reply to a question by Senator Ateeq, Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said that revenue share of port operator, China Overseas Port Holding Company, as per concession agreement is 91 percent from the gross revenue of Gwadar Port terminal operations, 91 percent from the gross revenue of marine operations and 85 percent from the gross revenue of free zone operations.

“Will the government of Pakistan also pay to the Chinese company, as often such agreements are on the basis of 50/50 revenue basis,” asked Senator Ateeq and in reply, the minister said that under the agreement, the company would make all investment and develop the facility under the concession agreement of 40 years, which is extendable by another 10 years after which, the infrastructure would be at the disposal of Pakistan.

He urged the chair to give a ruling so that the agreement details could be placed before the House.

PML-N Senator Lt Gen Salahuddin Tirmizi (retd) questioned why the Parliament can’t ratify all such agreements as it is an international practice.

Rabbani directed the minister to share the agreement copy with the House so that the senators could have a look at it.

Responding to a calling attention notice from MQM’s Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Sartaj Aziz noted that since the brutal killing of Burhan Wani last year, 250 Kashmiris have been martyred while scores of other wounded and taken into custody.

And very recently, again people of Kashmir rejected the sham and farcical by-polls in Indian Occupied Kashmir, while Indian forces killed nine people, including a child, and Pulwama College was also raided and videos of violence on students are available on social media, he added.

He noted the government is taking every possible step to highlight the Indian brutalities against people of Indian Occupied Kashmir and diplomatic channels are also being used and letters are written to the UN secretary general and OIC.

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