Walkout no solution
ISLAMABAD: Opposition Leader Aitzaz Ahsan rightly raised the issue of 300 missing or martyred Pakistani Hajis during the last month stampede in Mina but he should have stayed in the House instead of staging a walkout.
The proceedings were going smoothly and the Opposition’s walkout seems uncalled for as there was no immediate reason for this. Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani was also perturbed at this decision.
It would have been better if the Opposition had stayed in the House and continue playing its positive role.
Aitzaz’s point of view was that they walked out against government’s negligence in the Mina incident, but even in that case it should have been a token walkout instead boycotting the whole day’s proceedings.
No doubt the issue of identification of missing and martyred Hajis is a great concern for their loved ones. It is their very right to know the whereabouts of their missing or dead relatives.
The aggrieved families have no clue of the missing persons. Unfortunately, the ministry concerned did not pay attention to this issue timely due to which the miseries of the families could not be addressed yet.
Senator Mir Kabir Muhammad Shahi, who performed Haj this year, rightly pointed out that the pilgrims had a number of identity cards and a bracelet carrying detailed information about them; therefore, their identification should not be an issue.
The issue is with the ministry concerned as it did not act timely. If Iran and India could trace every missing or martyred Haji then why those from Pakistan have not been found.
Aitzaz was right in pointing out that the identification could be ascertained by getting the thumb impression of the dead, but the ministry might not have access to that point.
Responding to Opposition’s queries, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid assured the House that the government would help those who wanted to bring the bodies back home despite the fact that traditionally they preferred to bury their love ones in Hijaz.
He further said after completion of Haj operation in Saudi Arabia, the government was planning to send the relatives of martyred Hajis to offer fateha at the graves of their loved ones.
It would have been better had the government sent the relatives of the missing persons to Saudi Arabia to trace their kin in hospitals or elsewhere. Aitzaz could have raised this issue and the government might have considered it, had Aitzaz stayed in the House.
Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Ghafoor Haidri revealed that around 2,400 Hajis lost their life in the stampede, while the official figures showed around 1,100 plus deaths.
He disclosed it while quoting some officials. The government should probe this figure through the Foreign Ministry and it may help in tracing out the missing persons.
The House was also right in censuring the treasury over the Nepra report in which the efficiency of Ministry of Water and Power was declared very poor, while alleging that 70 per cent consumers were receiving incorrect bills. This report exposed the ministry and its treatment of consumers.
The Nepra report could become another mega scandal for the present regime if did not investigate thoroughly.
Usman Kakar and Mir Kabir pleaded that Balochistan was the most aggrieved province on this account. The PML-N also joined the race as Senator Abdul Qayyum demanded investigation on the basis of the Nepra report.
It exasperated Khawaja Asif as his own party was censuring him over the issue and rose to reply, but unfortunately the Opposition raised the quorum issue.
The senators from Sindh often complain that Sindh is being ignored by the Federation but the movers stay away from the House when important business about their province comes up for discussion.
Sassui Palijo through a call-attention notice raised the issue of ignoring the quota of Rural Sindh for some vacancies in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) but it was disposed off due to her absence from the House.
Some young fellows from Sindh were sitting in the Gallery and were disappointed by her absence. They claimed if Palijo would have been in the House then they might have got some remedy.
Later, Palijo clarified that she was busy in a party meeting.
Had she entered the House ten minutes earlier, the disappointment on the faces of Sindhi youth might have been converted into some hope.
My humble plea to the said youth is: it is an issue of priorities.
Though we have fewer female senators as compared with their male counterparts, it was noticed some female senators, their party affiliation regardless, often abstained from attending the session while their own business came under discussion.
But we must acknowledge senators from Balochistan as they fully participate in the House business whenever the issues related to their province are on the agenda.