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Damages by US drones: Senate resolution calls for payment of compensation

By Mumtaz Alvi
December 19, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday passed a resolution, moved by a treasury senator, calling on the government to demand payment from the United States on account of damages done to the lives and properties of Pakistanis due to drone hits inside Pakistan since 2000.

“Whereas it is a fact that the government of USA has been demanding compensation from countries accused of involvement in damages caused to the lives and properties of its citizens; whereas it is also a fact that damages have been caused to the lives and properties of many innocent citizens of Pakistan by the US drone attacks inside Pakistan since 2000,” the resolution said.

Another resolution, which was deferred earlier, was also adopted by the House unanimously that says, “The House recommends that the government should lay all international conventions, treaties, covenants, commitments and agreements signed or ratified by the government of Pakistan before both houses of Parliament”. The resolution was moved by PPP’s Sehar Kamran.

Rabbani referred a bill to amend the for a report with a request the process might be expedited. The bill was floated by Senator Sehar Kamran. PML-Functional Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah’s bill further to amend the Area Study Centres Act, 1975 was referred to the House committee concerned for deliberations and report. The House implemented rules, framed and adopted in 2012, regarding consideration of draft bills. The Senate was adjourned for 30 minutes for this purpose and the two bills, moved by PTI Senator Muhammad Azam Swati were deliberated upon in detail and in the end both were withdrawn for review.

Meanwhile, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar called for a gradual and planned shift of businesses and commercial activities from a particular group to private sector to make indigenous industry viable and economical. It may be mentioned that the particular group is a big one that is also involved in trade and industrial activities in the country. Taking part in discussion on a motion moved by PTI’s Senator Mohsin Aziz, Senator Farhatullah he proposed curtailing the range of this special group's activities to its own domain.

He said the Senate recently learnt that there were more than 50 enterprises of this group in the country ranging from cement, fertilizer and sugar production to banking, real estate, aviation, bakery products, literally everything under the sun. But answers to critical questions like contracts awarded without bids and loans written off, are not available, he said. The distortion in the playing field in industrial production by this group is a reality that needs to be investigated and addressed.

Contracts for toll collection involving tens of millions a day is awarded to a venture of this group without bids. Another enterprise got away neatly when a bridge built by it in Karachi collapsed on the day it was to be inaugurated, he noted.

He said that according to a book this special group's net collection worth at more than 10 billion pounds. This he said was many times over the total foreign direct investment generated by Pakistan that year.

Many of the country’s largest corporations worth billions are controlled by the group involved in literally every industrial activity, he said. The Senate recently learnt that there is also an airline in the name of this group although the minister said he was not aware if it also was part of its business conglomerate, he said.

Discrimination against local industry and private entrepreneurs and the absence of a level playing field is a factor impeding industrial progress in the country. He said that after 2013 elections the Iranian president had asked a certain clique to restrict their commercial and industrial activities, and called upon the government to realistically review industrial policies.