Riazul Haq

Oct 112017
 

ISLAMABAD: There is a need for new legislation to enable authorities to hold someone responsible for enforced disappearances. At the same time, the extent of the issue is being confused by activists such as Mama Qadeer, who could not back up his claims regarding the number of missing persons. These were among the comments made by Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances head Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Wednesday. He was sharing details of the committee’s performance before the Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights. Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM) Nasreen Jalil chaired the meeting. PHC seeks reports of 10 missing persons every week “Despite challenges, we have disposed of 2,899 cases out of a total of 4,329 cases received by the commission… We are currently processing 1,386 cases,” he said. A host of problems, he said, could be resolved if the parliament modified relevant sections the Criminal Procedures Code. Parliament, he said, should play a proactive role by empowering the committee. Nobody, he pointed out, had asked former president Pervez Musharraf when he extradited more than 2,000 Pakistanis to foreign countries despite the fact that the country had terrorism laws and regulations. “This is not a banana republic … Nobody has bothered to … hold him accountable for what he did,” he said. Missing persons details to be given in three days He also lamented that he was being blamed for not making the Abbottabad Commission Report public. “Only the government and the parliament can decide to make it public,” he [Read More…]

Jan 172017
 
Reviewing laws: Govt says NAB laws to be amended with consensus

ISLAMABAD: Claiming that multiple accountability bodies create hurdles in ensuring rule of law in the country, the opposition members in a parliamentary panel have recommended a uniform legal accountability system. This recommendation was made on Tuesday during the second in-camera meeting of a 20-member parliamentary committee held under the chair of Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The panel – comprising 13 MNAs and seven Senators – was formed by the Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq after various quarters criticised use of voluntary return and plea bargain provisions by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and called for a review of the National Accountability Ordinance. Interestingly unlike its first meeting, no lawmaker from opposition parties protested against the ordinance issued by President Mamnoon Hussain on January 7. The ordinance slaps a lifetime ban on public office-holders and government servants who enter into plea bargain and voluntary return deals. After the meeting, Hamid told reporters that the committee would review every accountability law and NAB laws would be amended with consensus. “The committee will also review Khyber-Pakhtunkwa’s (K-P) accountability laws,” he said. The PTI’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Shah Mehmood Qureshi later told The Express Tribune that the PTI and opposition members had also asked about scope of the committee. “We have no idea whether we are going to bring amendment to the NAB laws or a new law will be proposed,” he said, adding that the existing law had totally failed. He said the government had agreed with their demand about reviewing [Read More…]

Sep 272016
 

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said any violation of Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) from India would pertain to considerable risk of war and hostilities between the two countries. “Pakistan will not accept Indian aggression in any form and any Indian step for disrupting water flow as upper riparian will pertain to considerable risk of war and hostilities,” the adviser said in the National Assembly in response to a calling attention notice on Tuesday. The House also unanimously passed a resolution condemning “falsified Indian claim in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) about Jammu and Kashmir being integral part of India.” The NA criticised Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech in UNGA on Monday for “drawing parallels between Jammu and Kashmir, a recognised disputed territory and Balochistan, an integral part of sovereign Pakistan.” Desperate Modi now plots to run Pakistan dry Aziz said India was under pressure “due to our diplomatic efforts” and raising the Kashmir issue on international stage. The adviser explained the provisions of IWT, saying as per sub provision 3 and 4 of provisions of Article 12 of IWT, the treaty could not be altered or revoked unilaterally, adding that the World Bank had facilitated the treaty and its role is defined in the treaty in case of violation by any party. However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Shireen Mazari questioned the claim. “None of the provisions in the Treaty says the World Bank was guarantor of the treaty between the two countries, rather [Read More…]

Sep 112016
 
Unfinished agenda: After Eid, Senate panel to take up graft in govt depts

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Special Oversight Committee will take up its agenda of scrutinising corruption in government departments soon after the Eidul Azha holidays, panel chairman Mohammad Javed Abbasi said on Sunday. “We will try to expose the officials involved in corruption…the problem needs to be fixed for a better society,” he told The Express Tribune in a telephonic conversation. Apparently senior bureaucrats from different ministries and divisions continue to shy away from sharing details of corruption in their offices with the oversight panel set up last year. The Special Oversight Committee had prepared a 51-point document on eradicating corruption and circulated it in government departments. Besides, it also asked them to submit a compliance report in this regard. However, the bureaucracy gave a clean chit to its machinery. Committee members and chairman Abbasi were surprised when in a meeting held in April, none of the departments shared substantive measures against malpractices and embezzlements. Interestingly, during the meeting, a 300-plus-page dossier presented from all organisations concerned contained nothing in connection with the committee’s suggestion, instead it repeatedly mentioned that the document had been “well received, (and proposals) will be implemented in letter and spirit.” Instead every secretary and head of the departments, present in that meeting had one point in common ¬ “we have our own rules and provisions for curbing corrupt practices.” The oversight committee tried its best to make the top officials share details of action taken against officers involved in corrupt practices, but nothing could be obtained from them. [Read More…]

Sep 012016
 

ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s standing committee on law and justice has recommended that a treason case be filed against Altaf Hussain for raising and endorsing anti-Pakistan slogans. The panel, headed by Senator Javed Abbasi, called for express action against Altaf under Article 6 of the Constitution. Before the meeting started, Senator Babar Awan held forth on recent statements of the MQM founder and sought answers from law ministry officials about the legal status of the case against the MQM founder. The committee agreed to recommend lodging a case under Article 6 against Altaf Hussain. The participants also sought details of the reference sent to Britain in this regard. “Were details of the reference filed against Altaf … discussed beforehand with the law ministry?” asked Awan, adding that all relevant developments were routinely discussed with the law ministry. He also asked the ministry officials that the committee should be informed whether the cabinet’s approval was sought before the reference was sent. The committee unanimously agreed that the MQM leader had used such language and he should be tried for treason. The committee, according to him, should also be informed whether the government intends filing a reference against the party in the Supreme Court or not. “Why has the government not acted on such a serious matter?” The chairperson gave the ministry officials a one-week deadline to furnish detailed replies to all questions asked by the committee. Separately, Awan questioned the logic of the recent decision of the prime minister to send 22 lawmakers [Read More…]

Jul 202016
 
Violence against women: Prospects brighten for pro-women bills

ISLAMABAD: In an apparent bid to curb the rising tide of crimes against women, the government is all set to pass in the coming weeks an anti-honour killing bill and an ant-rape bill during the joint sitting of parliament. The prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, on Wednesday told Reuters that the two pro-women bills will be discussed in a special parliamentary committee meeting, whose first meeting is going to be held today (Thursday). Earlier, the proposed laws – Criminal Laws Amendment Bill, 2015, and the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2015 – had lapsed as they could not be passed by the National Assembly within the stipulated timeframe of 90 days. The bills were originally laid in the Senate in January 2014 by a former senator Sughra Imam as a private members bill. However, they could not make their way in the joint sitting of Parliament in April this year, mainly due to opposition from the Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F). However, the government last week constituted a special body –Committee of Joint Sittings Bills – to expedite legislation on the long-delayed process. Now a 10-member committee, headed by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, will discuss the bills in presence of the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also member of the body.. Senator Farhatullah Babar will also be attending the meeting as mover of the bill. After the joint session, Cabinet Committee on Law Reforms discussed the bills with lawmakers of JUI-F and also invited Imam [Read More…]

May 052016
 

ISLAMABAD: The construction of new Islamabad Airport is increasingly becoming embroiled in a host of problems, confusing members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) because every time conflicting details are shared. On Thursday, members of the PAC, including its chairperson Syed Khursheed Shah, expressed serious concern over poor planning in connection with water supply and availability of electricity in addition to “blunders” in construction of two runways of the airport. DG Aviation of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Asim Suleiman informed the committee that the PC-I of Rs37 billion, which was the original cost of the project, had been approved in 2008 but it did not include the cost of installing radar, or building air traffic control (ATC) tower, baggage handling area, air field lighting and security system. Thus, the revised PC-1 pushed the cost to Rs81.17 billion, prompting Shah to ask what if it increased again due to further delays. MNA Sheikh Rashid Ahmed asked the DG if they could share details of a proper road to the airport, including the water, gas and electricity facilities. He said he had lands in the area and nothing had been properly set and “all presentations and details are nothing but just eyewash.” The “blunder” which came up during the discussion was that two runways had been built with a separating distance of just 201 meters. “Two flights cannot land concurrently which was an error by an American designer,” the DG confessed. Mahmood quipped that it was a criminal error. Shah asked if [Read More…]

Apr 112016
 

ISLAMABAD: The Parliament on Monday unanimously approved a bill to convert Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) into a public limited company. The decision came during a joint session of the Parliament chaired by National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq. Joint parliamentary session: Little gained after three-week break As members of the bicameral house took their seats at today’s joint sitting of parliament following a three-week break, they were mindful of the long shadow of stalled progress in the previous session. The joint sitting was last adjourned on March 11. Of the six bills referred to the 10-member committee concerned, consensus was achieved only on the Pakistan International Airlines conversion bill and two others. The agenda for this session included the six bills from the previous sitting. PIA sell-off bill to set sail in parliament Apart from the bill relating to PIA, the other bills that the committee discussed included the Emigration (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015, the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Privatisation Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2015. Of all the bills on the agenda, only emigration and civil servants bills were adopted with consensus. Initially, the government had planned to convene the joint sitting for considering the PIA bill, but it included five other bills on the agenda after the Senate passed a resolution and its chairperson, Raza Rabbani, directed the government to consider the bills already passed by the Senate and not the National Assembly. The [Read More…]

Apr 102016
 

ISLAMABAD: As members of the bicameral house take their seats at today’s joint sitting of parliament following a three-week break, they will be mindful of the long shadow of stalled progress in the previous session. The joint sitting was last adjourned on March 11. Of the six bills referred to the 10-member committee concerned, consensus was achieved only on the Pakistan International Airlines conversion bill and two others. The agenda for this session included the six bills from the previous sitting. Apart from the bill relating to PIA, the other bills that the committee discussed included the Emigration (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015, the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Privatisation Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2015. Of all the bills on the agenda, only emigration and civil servants bills were adopted with consensus. Initially, the government had planned to convene the joint sitting for considering the PIA bill, but it included five other bills on the agenda after the Senate passed a resolution and its chairperson, Raza Rabbani, directed the government to consider the bills already passed by the Senate and not the National Assembly. Conditional The government and the opposition have been sparring over the PIA issue since January this year. The government initially imposed a PIA law through a presidential ordinance in December last year, triggering protests from the opposition parties and a countrywide strike of PIA employees. The ordinance was later rejected [Read More…]

Apr 082016
 

ISLAMABAD:  Revelations concerning the offshore accounts of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family echoed in the National Assembly for the second consecutive day as legislators from government and opposition benches on Friday hurled allegations of corruption at each other. The prime minister’s children have been named in the documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca for owning offshore businesses. Earlier this week the premier announced that a commission, led by a retired judge of the superior judiciary, would probe the allegations against his family. On Friday, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq wrapped up in less than 20 minutes a call attention notice about the dismal performance of the national cricket team in the ICC World T20 tournament and introduction of two bills as the discussion again veered to the scandal. Speaking on the floor of the house, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated his party’s demand to form the judicial commission under the Supreme Court’s incumbent chief justice and acquire help from an independent firm for a forensic audit of Panama documents. However, he softened the party’s stance and urged the authorities to investigate the offshore investment of all the 200-plus Pakistanis – named in the leaks – including the prime minister’s family. “Let us sit together and finalise terms of references (TORs) for the judicial inquiry commission while fixing the timeline instead of mudslinging and political point-scoring,” Qureshi said. However, he expressed his wonder over ‘the silence’ of accountability, polls supervisory and anti-corruption bodies over the scandal. [Read More…]

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