Tuesday December 06, 2022

NA panel seeks report on Arshad Sharif’s killing

November 25, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs sought the report of the inquiry commission from interior and foreign ministries on journalist Arshad Sharif’s killing in Kenya in the next meeting of the committee.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs met on Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, chaired by Mohsin Dawar, with Muhammad Khan Daha, Ramesh Kumar, Muhammad Abubakar, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, and Syed Abrar Ali Shah in attendance.

It discussed international treaties, international assistance for flood relief operations, mechanisms for transfer or repatriation of prisoners abroad, the tracing and recovery of Pakistani doctor Saqib Raza, who is illegally detained in Syrian Kurdistan, and the appointment of honourary counsellors in Pakistan.

The committee was briefed on various international treaties, and it recommended that the government ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, affirm the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, respectively.

The committee also examined the matter of the tracing and recovery of Dr. Saqib Raza, a Pakistani maxillofacial surgeon living illegally in Syrian Kurdistan. The mother of the detained doctor, Saqib Raza, was invited to the meeting.

The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that the Pakistani mission in Damascus engaged the ICRC, UNHCR, and UNICEF to trace Pakistani nationals detained in Syrian Kurdistan. However, the repatriation of such detainees requires policy formulation from the Ministry of Interior.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs noted with concern and regretted that such a policy had not been devised in the four years since the case was reported. The committee directed that the Ministry of the Interior be summoned to the next meeting on the same subject, and urged the Foreign Office to take the case seriously.

The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the committee that the Pakistani missions provide comprehensive assistance to Pakistani prisoners abroad. However, the transfer of prisoners and offenders requires bilateral treaties with various countries.

It was told that such agreements were concluded and ratified with the concurrence of both parties to the agreement. The members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs raised concerns about why such arrangements were still not in place and Pakistani prisoners were languishing in foreign jails.

The committee emphasised the need for a clear political direction regarding the Transfer of Prisoners Treaties with various countries. It directed that the Ministry of Interior be called to the next meeting.

The committee was informed that in response to the UN Flash appeal, pledges worth $270 million have been made, and of these pledges, $170 million has been converted into firm commitments.

On members’ queries regarding cumulative assistance received, it was reported that Pakistan has received $3.4 billion for flood relief operations and reconstruction. It was also stated that Pakistan led an international consensus on the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP 27.