The Senate Standing Committee on Interior in its meeting today on Thursday strongly condemned the continuous ceasefire violations by Indian Forces at Line of Control (LoC), targeting civilian population, sending spy drones in Pakistani territory and killing of 35 Kashmiri youth in state violence against Muslims in India and Indian Occupied Kashmir. The Committee showed serious concerns over the rapid increase in positive cases of Coronavirus and deaths because of the virus across the country. Committee offered Fateha for those who lost their lives while combating COVID-19 and expressed sympathies with their bereaved families. Committee also paid rich tribute to doctors, nurses, and paramedics, Pakistan Army, Police and other LEAs for serving the nation day and night in these difficult moments of pandemic. Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Khan Swati on the behalf of the government highly applauded and recognized the efforts of Senator A. Rehman Malik for his efforts to remove Pakistan name from FATF’s Grey List. He said that because of his tireless efforts, Pakistan received a relief of five months from FATF in the most difficult time of pandemic.
IMPLEMENTATION ON 37 POINTS ANTI CORONAVIRUS NATIONAL ACTION PLAN: At the start of the meeting Senator A. Rehman Malik said that the committee had held an emergency meeting on February 27th, 2020 on Coronavirus after assessing its spread in Pakistan soon after its outbreak in China and Iran and had formulated a comprehensive 37-points Anti-Coronavirus National Action Plan well on time before it spread across the country. He said that the 37 Points Anti-Coronavirus National Action Plan included important measures starting from installation of screening at all airports and entry points, handover of entry points to Army Medical Corps, quarantining of all incoming passengers, establishment of isolation centers, provision of personal protection equipment (PPEs) to doctors, nurses and also officials at airports, closing of educational institutions and others. He said that during the lockdown, the committee continued its work and along with letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan about measures against Coronavirus, he also wrote letters to Secretary General United Nations and FATF to remove the name of Pakistan from FATF’s Grey List and it was matter of immense pleasures that Pakistan was given a temporary relief however he urges the government to pursue the matter that a permanent relief could be given to Pakistan by removing its name permanently from the grey list.
Senator A. Rehman Malik said that unfortunately the nation is not taking Coronavirus serious and they are not following the SOPs to prevent its further increase resultantly the numbers of positive cases and death are rapidly increasing. He said that the country will have a drastic increase in the positive cases of coronavirus and deaths if government doesn’t implement the SOPs by force of law. He said that many confusion among masses is created about Coronavirus and the government needs to remove all those confusions and lead the nation in right directions. He emphasized the need to revamp the advocacy strategy to spread awareness to the general public regarding the pandemic in all local languages. He also advised to change the national slogan “we are not afraid of Corona” as we have to tell the nation that it is a deadly virus and we have to prevent it collectively by following SOPs and taking it serious. Secretary Interior briefed the committee on implementation of 37 points recommendation of Senate Standing Committee on Interior and said that it proved a compact guideline for the government to combat Coronavirus. He said that Senate Standing Committee on Interior was the first ever forum that assessed the potential threat of Coronavirus in the country and guided the government about its prevention well before its outbreak. He said that all the points were sent for implementation to the relevant departments and were implemented in all letter and spirit. Executive Director National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram also briefed the committee about the measures so far taken to combat coronavirus. While briefing the Committee on the Corona situation in the Country, he informed that fatality rate in Pakistan is 2.6 percent and currently there are 16 Centres running in Pakistan. Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik directed that the testing capacity must be increased as the Senators from Balochistan expressed that testing facility is not available for people in their respective areas. He said that he would personally request the Chinese Government to assist Pakistan in this effort and provide testing kits to Pakistan at affordable rates. He also directed that test must be made more affordable that maximum people can be tested for coronavirus and that private labs must be accordingly regulated. He directed that residents of Kachi Abbadis must be tested for coronavirus free of cost as they can’t afford themselves so the ratio of spread of coronavirus could be well determined in the capital. He also directed that government must not ignore the patients of coronavirus in rural areas and mobile laboratories should be deployed to test maximum suspected there. He constituted a sub-committee to be supervised by Senator Javed Abbasi to work out with Ministry of Interior and Health and suggest for the reduction in price of test for coronavirus and also to formulate a future strategy to combat the pandemic effectively. Chairman Committee , on the public petition submitted by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi , directed that in Islamabad all traders must ensure that full salaries are paid to their employees and that the traders should be given a relief to pay half rent to the owner of their shops or building in the markets of Islamabad. He directed Deputy Commissioner to issue a notification that traders to pay full salaries to their employees and the tenants will pay half rent as during the lockdown business was halted across the country. He stressed the need for a National Plan to curb the spread of the Virus in rural areas, especially Balochistan.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR PASSED UNANIMOUSLY TWO RESOLUTIONS:
Senate Standing Committee on Interior unanimously passed two important resolutions.
RESOLUTION AGAINST INDIAN AGGRESSION AT LOC: The resolution, moved by Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik stated “The Senate Standing Committee on Interior strongly condemns the continuous ceasefire violations by Indian Forces at Line of Control (LoC), violation of aerial territory by sending spy drones and targeting civilian population which is a sheer violation of agreement between India and Pakistan supervised by United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan to establish ceasefire at Line of Control. The committee unanimously adopts that the Government of Pakistan should move the matter in the United Nations Security Council in the form of a complaint for continuous and unprovoked violations. Senate Standing Committee on Interior also condemns the Indian Forces unprecedented brutalities against oppressed people of Kashmir and expressed great grief over the killing of 35 innocent Kashmiri youth and state violence against Muslims across India. The committee firmly stands by the oppressed people of Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for their freedom. Senate Standing Committee on Interior applauds the Pakistan Armed Forces for shooting down the Indian spy Drones which violated Pakistani airspace with malicious designs of Warcraft.” Senator A. Rehman Malik stressed that India has nefarious designs against Pakistan and that the Armed Forces of Pakistan will give a befitting response to any misadventure from across the border. He stressed the need for active UN intervention in this matter and assured Kashmiri brothers of Pakistan’s solidarity.
CALLING SAARC ON CORONAVIRUS AND COMMON FOOD STORAGE: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior in its meeting advised the government to call and host the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) moot to discuss the coronavirus outbreak and formulate a common counter coronavirus strategy. In this regard, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik moved the resolution which was adopted by the committee unanimously. He read the resolution “The Senate Standing Committee on Interior strongly recommends that SAARC moot may be called to formulate ‘SAARC Common Counter-Coronavirus Strategy’ to combat the COVID-19 effectively in the SAARC countries and to check the flow of coronavirus patients and its effects on law enforcements and national security in SAARC countries’.
UNREST SITUATION IN BALOCHISTAN: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior also discussed in detail the prevailing situation of unrest in Balochistan after the killing of a boy from one tribe followed by the murder of another boy from accused tribe. Senator A. Rehman Malik asserted that enemies of Pakistan will be giving these killings a sectarian and ethnic tinge to create chaos in the province. He said that he has already discussed the matter with Inspector General Police Balochistan who informed him that all those who were involved in the killing of boy were arrested and a JIT was formed to investigate the matter in detail to unearth the motives. He stressed that the dispute should be resolved through dialogue and Jirga of elders of all tribes and scholars all sects. He said in past all such matter he as then interior minister had resolved such issues through dialogue. He directed the Secretary Interior to arrange urgent meeting that IG Police and Chief Secretary Balochistan brief the committee. Chairman constituted a sub-committee of consisting of Senator Kuada Babar, Senator Kalsoom Perveen and Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen to look into the matter and brief the committee. He said if necessary the committee will visit Balochistan to resolve the issue.
LEGISLATION- APPROVAL OF BILLS:
The Senate Standing Committee on Interior discussed in detail various Bills presented to the Committee for review and reconsideration; these included the Islamabad Prevention of Beggary Bill, 2020; the Islamabad Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2020; the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation Bill, 2020 and the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Ordinance no VI). The Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Interior presented their views on the legislation. The Committee , after a detailed deliberation, passed the Islamabad Prevention of Beggary Bill, 2020; the Islamabad Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2020; the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020; and the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation Bill, 2020. However the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Ordinance no VI) was deferred.
Chaired by Senator A Rehman Malik, the meeting was attended by Senator Azam Khan Swati Federal Minister for Narcotic Control , Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Muhammad Kauda Babar, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, Senator Dr. Sehehzad Waseem, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Kalsoom Parveen, Secretary Interior, Executive Director National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram, Executive Director PIMS and senior officials from the Ministry of Interior, Health, NIH, PIMS, Police with all concerned.
At the end of the meeting, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik highly appreciated ED NIH Maj Gen Aamer Ikram, Ministry of Health, National Command and Control Centre (NCOC), all doctors and paramedics, officials of Pak Army, Police, ICT Administration and other LEAs for their day and night efforts in limited resources.