The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior under the Chairmanship of Senator Mohsin Aziz was held here at the Parliament House on Thursday. At the outset of the meeting, Chairman Committee raised the matter of a Fake Caller who claimed to be a Bank representative and asked to provide personal information. To investigate the matter, the chairman of the committee directed the FIA officials to contemplate and submit a report to the committee.
The committee reconsidered the "The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2021" moved by Senator Fida Mohammad. After a detailed discussion on the bill, the committee approved the bill with some amendments.
Senator Saadia Abbasi moved the "The Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2021" for re-consideration in the committee. The Chairman Committee also read out the comments of the concerned Ministries regarding the bill. After deliberation on the bill, the head of the Committee decided to form a sub-committee that would examine the Bill presented by the Government and the Bill moved by Senator Saadia Abbasi. The sub-committee would submit a report to the Committee.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed moved two bills in the committee. “The Anti-Terrorism Amendment Bill 2020” was withdrawn after reconsidering by Senator Mushtaq. “The Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Amendment Bill 2020, was recessed for further discussion till the next sitting by the Chairman before passing it from the committee.
The committee unanimously passed "The Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2020" moved by Senator Muhammad Sabir Shah. According to the proposed amendment, “Whoever deliberately defiles or puts on fire the portrait of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan or unauthorizedly removes it from any office or premises or other property of Government, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years but shall not be less than six months, or with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees, or with both.”
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed raised the issue of the death of a 14-year-old boy, Hassan Khan in the custody of Islamabad Police. Senator Talha Mahmood inquired that on what basis the heirs of the deceased youth pardoned the police? Police officials told the committee that Rs. 9 million had been paid as a compensation amount to the heirs. The 14-year boy was arrested in connection with the killing of two policemen, he apprised. The Police officials further added that the mother of the boy has declared exoneration in her statement, which she recorded in front of the Assistant Commissioner. The chairman of the committee with the consent of the committee members disposed off the matter.
The committee received a comprehensive briefing on the organizational structure and procedures of the Immigration and Passport Department from DG Immigration and Passport. The DG Immigration and Passport apprised the committee that at present there are 180 passport offices in Pakistan and 292 passport offices worldwide. During the briefing, the senators raised questions regarding the procedure for the extension of visas. The committee members noted that the process of extension of visas is time-consuming. The committee members said that a time frame should be set for the verification of visas. Secretary interior stated that a time frame has been fixed with the agencies in this regard. DG Passport and Immigration underlined that so far 71 passport offices across the country has a one-window facility. He said that a total of 2,406,495 passports were issued in the year 2020-2021 adding that 9,037 passports were backlisted and placed in category ‘B’. The organization generates revenue worth Rs 24 billion annually, he added. The meeting was informed that currently there are 50 million passport holders in the country. E-passport and e-counter facility would also be set up in the coming few years. A chip would be installed on the data page of the e-passport. At the end of the briefing, the Chairman committee decided to award the Directorate with the “letter of appreciation”.
Excise and taxation (ETO) officials also briefed the committee on the performance and working procedures of the office. The ETO director informed the committee that the ETO's revenue for the last two years was Rs 4.5 billion. He said that despite the pandemic, the revenue had reached Rs 8 billion since March 2019. While briefing the committee, Director ETO said that about 1.4 million vehicles were registered with the office. The Chairman Committee has sought details of the stolen vehicles from the Excise and Taxation Office within five days. The Chairman committee while addressing the officials of ETO said that a lot of complaints are being received regarding the malfunction in ETO. The committee provided questionnaires to the Excise and Taxation Office and sought answers in the next meeting.
Senator Samina Mumtaz Zehri, Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad, Senator Shahadat Awan, Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood, Senator Fawzia Arshad, Senator Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Senator Dilawar Khan and Senator Sarfraz Ahmad Bugti attended the meeting. Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Saadia Abbasi, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad and Senator Sabir Shah also participated in the meeting as a mover. Apart from the Committee members, Secretary Interior, DG Immigration and Passports, Excise and Taxation Office officials, DG FIA and other concerned officials were also present in the meeting.