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October 23, 2020

Intrusion into Maryam‘s hotel room: Senate resolution seeks panel to fix responsibility

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October 23, 2020

ISLAMABAD: In a move which apparently took the treasury benches by surprise, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani Thursday referred the issue of forcible intrusion into Maryam Nawaz’s hotel room and kidnapping of IG Police Sindh to the House Standing Committee on Law for probe.

Following a heated debate between the legislators on both sides of the aisle, the referral of the matter was made to the house panel after Leader of Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq moved a resolution for constitution of a Senate committee immediately to find out facts as to what happened at that night and kidnapping of the IGP with a view to fixing the responsibility.

While PTI Senator Walid Iqbal urged referring the matter to the House Committee of the Whole, starting its proceedings by running videos of what he called disrespect meted out to the Mazar-e-Quaid, whereas Information and Broadcasting Minister Shibli Faraz insisted that two committees already formed should complete their work first on this count. “It is a bid by the PPP and the PML-N to put pressure on those two committees to divert attention from the actual matter,” he alleged and called for a debate on the incident at the Mazar-e-Quaid and violation of the related law. However, the chair, after asking from Raja Zafarul Haq, initially referred the matter to the House Committee on Interior and then to the Committee on Law and Justice. Law and Justice Minister Farogh Nasim contended that without the consent of the leader of the house, the matter could not be referred like this. To this, the chair clarified that he had only referred the matter.

After the resolution was moved in the House, PPP parliamentary leader Senator Sherry Rehman opened the debate and said: “The Senate is the house of federation and it is important that the Senate plays its role and forms an apparatus for the inquiry. Just the executive playing its part is not enough”. She contended: “This is a big incident and is affecting the relationship between the provinces and the federal government. An IG was abducted and made to sign the FIR under duress. This led to the additional IGs, SPs and DIGs asking for resignations. They all want to see the results of the investigation.”

It was not a secret how the FIR was lodged, she pointed out and said: “We can hear statements from federal ministers that they will see how this FIR was not lodged. This was all out there in the open, running on television that federal ministers were openly threatening police officers to lodge the FIR. What happened to PTI’s tall claims of not misusing their authority?”

Sherry wondered how a grade-22 officer could be coerced into signing such FIRs. Which law gives them the permission to break in a woman’s room so late in the night? Is this the jungle’s law? This is a sensitive matter with far-reaching consequences. “We must play our part in sorting out this issue, so a semblance of the rule of law is restored.”

“There are so many situations like women being abused or terrorist organizations operating, where it takes time to lodge FIRs. Delaying tactics are used, people are unable to get their rights and are being wronged openly. But in this case, it took minutes to lodge the FIR,” she added. She termed it a grave crisis which could lead to a constitutional crisis. So, let the Senate play its part. Incidents like these must not happen again. “We welcome the Army chief’s action of conducting and overseeing the investigation after PPP Chairman Bilawal’s press conference.

Dr Shahzad Waseem, leader of the house in the Senate, said the provincial government and General Qamar Javed Bajwa have announced an inquiry into the incident, so reports of both inquiries should be awaited. “The direction in which they are taking the matters is no service to the state and none of them is talking about disrespect happened at the Mazar but the citizens reacted to it and some approached the police station and lodged an FIR. The police are under the Sindh government. “The startling statement of Zubair is also before us and one can weigh its legal status after his statements, following his meetings with the army chief,” he noted. He said there was no sign of dragging or forcibly taking out Safdar or breaking in. All the facts should be put before the nation.

Commenting on the matter, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said one state agency protested against another agency's move. He said this is a very serious issue, due to which the intervention of the Senate or the Parliament is necessary and according to the rules, the Senate could look into the matter. He alleged that in this case, the federal government directly interfered in the affairs of the province, which affected the provincial autonomy as Sindh was not taken into confidence. “History may not forgive if the legislature does not play its due role, as from IGP to SHO, all registered their protest over the action of the state and sought leave,” he said.

Rabbani said this is the first time in the history of the uniformed force that such protests are taking place. Police officers are knowingly protesting against the state or any action of the state and if it is not realized, it could have serious consequences. He said the Army chief announced an inquiry which is welcome but it goes to the inquiry body where one body has protested against the actions of another body that is part of the state and the federation.

Rabbani said if the parliament does not play its role, the situation could worsen as a minister threatened the IGP and the chief secretary that he would take up the matter with the cabinet and added if one looks at the statement of the spokesperson of the federal government dated October 20, it seems that the central government was already aware of the incident.

Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem said the Senate has the prerogative and role “so we would not have any objection and the truth should come out”. However, he said if there is any pressure on anyone, it is wrong but the action taken on the mausoleum of the Quaid-i-Azam should be taken into consideration. He said the action taken at the mausoleum of the Quaid-i-Azam should be looked into if it was right, but if it was wrong, what was the punishment for it.

Raja Zafarul Haq said every institution has its own responsibility, but the role of the Senate on national affairs is important. “It is not possible for all of us to wait for these reports and then form a committee.” He stressed that the issue should be discussed in the House and then a committee should be formed. The Leader of the House said that the House is very respectable so the responsibility of the House also becomes more important and until something comes up, one should avoid forming a committee on mere ideas so that the sanctity of the House is maintained.

Senator Shibli Faraz said the chief minister has conceded that what happened at the Mazar was wrong. He said this constituted registration of a case and punishment but they (opposition) want to play politics. “They just want to spread confusion and anarchy and sabotage the economy,” he noted. He said the resolution should not be taken up.

While referring to the chain of events, PML-N leader Mushahidullah Khan questioned the claim of the prime minister that they all were on the same page. “When you keep on taking wrong decisions, there is some divine justice. When officers up to grade-22 register protest, it is mutiny. Who is responsible for this? “Your repeated claim of being on one page shows your weakness. You just don’t have an idea. The incidents against Maryam Nawaz, arrest of Captain (retd) Safdar and kidnapping of the IGP are extraordinary incidents. The fire you ignited away from your home is reaching you now,” he said.

Earlier, during the question hour, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub faced a tough time at the hands of opposition senators and at one time, PPP Senator Behramand Tangi accused the minister of receiving bribe for the appointment of a chief executive, which he denied and challenged him to prove. State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan agitated on this and called for referral of the matter to the House Privileges Committee, saying it is a serious allegation against one of the members of the cabinet and if it is proved, the senator should be suspended. The chair referred the matter to the committee concerned.