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February 17, 2017

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Rabbani disappointed at briefing on terrorism

Rabbani disappointed at briefing on terrorism

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani on Thursday expressed disappointment over the briefing given to the Senate on the fresh wave of terrorist attacks in the four provinces, which he said had already been reported in the media.

Rabbani had sought a briefing from the Interior Ministry about the perpetrators of the attacks, but a briefing by State Minister for Interior Muhammad Baleegur Rehman that apparently relied on media reports, left the chair disappointed, who asked him to return to the Senate on Friday prepared. “What can I do! Whatever you said has already been reported in the media, and I want to know, who are behind all these attacks; what are the reasons? If it is sensitive matter and you can’t share the details, I can declare the house in-camera,” Rabbani said.

However, to the surprise of many, the minister insisted that the details he shared with the House were gathered through investigation by the law-enforcing agencies. He said that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – a faction of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the February 13 attack. “This terrorist group is currently based in Nangahar province of Afghanistan and we’ve made it clear to Afghan authorities not to allow their soil for terror activities,” he added.

“You did not get my point! We’ve already heard all this…my only concern is the recent eruption of terrorist attack and I want you to share the details behind these attacks with the parliament, so come prepared tomorrow, and I’ll give you an opportunity to give an in-camera briefing to the House,” he declared.

Senator Taj Haider of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) sought intervention of the Senate with regards to outsourcing of airports by the government, which according to him, would put the security of the country at stake.

Haider contended that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had placed advertisements in newspapers to outsource the operation, management and development of new Islamabad International Airport – Islamabad, Allama Iqbal International Airport – Lahore and Jinnah International Airport – Karachi. He had wanted to speak Wednesday as well and had a piece of paper in his hand. 

“The CAA has invited request for proposals (RFPs) from international companies for outsourcing the operation, management and development of these airports,, which is in no way justified as it has earned Rs32 billion deviants this year alone,” he pointed out.

“The radars at the airports will be in the control of the company, which is ridiculous to say the least, while Islamabad and Peshawar airports are basically are the airbases, which can’t be given to any foreign or local company,” he maintained.

“Ensure provision of adequate international standard ground handling facilities. Develop and exploit commercial concessions, airport retails, etc. Future development and expansion of airports infrastructure including runways, terminal building/satellites, avio-bridge, taxiways, cargo village, car parks, maintenance and repair organization, etc,” he noted.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were not sure whether the government would be able to arrange finances for the start of work on the Diamer Basha dam by the year-end, as joint opposition staged token walkout from the House against the government's conflicting positions on the project.

Apparently, State Minister for Water and Power Aid Sher Ali during the question hour failed to convince the inquisitive senators on arrangement of funding for the proposed dam. PTI’s Senator Samina Abid alleged the government had taken two different positions on the matter.

She said the government had informed the committee recently that it was trying to arrange funds for the dam from abroad but none was prepared to do so, whereas now the state minister had said that the work on the project would formally begin before the end of 2017.

The ruling PML-N’s Saud Majeed also rose to point out that estimated dollars 12-14 billion was required for the project.

Another treasury Senator Muhammad Talah Mehmood of JUI-Fazl pointed out that the government had mentioned in the written answer that the work on KKH bypass was halted on December 2015 due to border dispute between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. Similarly, total land required for the dam was yet to be acquired. Senator Samina then left the House, followed by other opposition senators. 

In written answer, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that initially Asian Development Bank had shown interest in the project but afterwards used delaying tactics and shied away from giving any firm commitment.

He explained construction of infrastructure/ preliminary works of the project i.e. project colony at Thore Valley, Composite Model Village-II at Harpan Das were in progress.

 

 

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