ISLAMABAD: The government categorically assured the Senate on Monday there was no shift in Pakistan’s policy towards Israel.
Leader of the House and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar gave the assurance when Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa raised the issue on a point of public importance.
He pointed out in the House that a delegation of Pakistani expatriates visited Israel. He sought an explanation from the government in this connection as it was a private members day.
The JI legislator explained that the Israeli president had not only confirmed his meeting with the delegation of Pakistanis but also expressed his delight over it.
Senator Mushtaq made it clear that the issue of Palestine was sensitive and then asked the government to explain its position, also wanting to know the identity of the members of the delegation as well as the name of the NGO which sponsored the visit, sparking a sharp reaction in the country.
He pointed out that the visit of a man, Ahmed Quraishi, working for the state-run television as part of the delegation raised many questions, as he wanted to know under which authority and on which travel documents he undertook the visit. Senator Mushtaq also demanded cancellation of the nationality of the expatriates of Pakistani origin, who travelled to Israel. He also stressed banning the NGO which facilitated the visit.
Responding to him, Law Minister Tarar assured the House that he would place the information after getting a briefing from the Foreign Office and relevant quarters and let the House know as to who had gone there, to which country they belonged and to what extent they had connection with Pakistan. However, he emphasised at the same time that it would be inappropriate to pass comments on a matter concerning the state on the basis of news reports.
Opposition Leader Dr Shahzad Waseem of the PTI criticised the government for taking a serious issue so casually and claimed that the delegation to Israel included two Pakistani passport holders. The incumbent government, he alleged, had surrendered to the US and was not even ready to talk to Russia, adding that the appointment of a trade attaché to India was also part of the same policy.
The issue of the Pakistani expatriates’ visit to Israel was raised again during a debate on an adjournment motion tabled by PTI senators. Later, PTI legislators accused the government of resorting to fascism to thwart their peaceful Azadi march, as the treasury senators insisted that the law took its course after it was announced that the march would be bloody. They said threatening statements were issued by PTI leaders and law-enforcement personnel were targeted.
Taking part in the debate on the adjournment motion, moved by PTI senators, Faisal Javed proposed holding of a public referendum whether or not people wanted free and transparent elections and then he himself declared that the vast majority stood for polls. He said that after two days, following the expiry of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s six-day ultimatum to the government to announce poll dates, Imran would announce the date for another march. “The one held on May 25 was merely a trailer and the movie will be run now. We have a right to peaceful protests and all eyes are fixed at the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” he noted.
Another PTI Senator Azam Swati, who opened the debate, urged the chair to refer his application to the House Standing Committee on Interior for a probe into what happened on May 25. He added that if his contention mentioned in the application proved right, action should be taken against PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the IGP and the Rangers head. The debate was marred by members from both sides of the aisle.
Senator Shibli Faraz drew parallel between what Israel and India were doing with Palestinians and Kashmiris respectively and the fascist actions unleashed during the PTI Azadi march. He reiterated the present government was imposed on Pakistan through a conspiracy.
Senator Zeeshan Khanzada of the PTI called on the government to share with the House the expenses incurred on halting the Azadi march and the losses caused to the economy and how many arrests were made and FIRs registered.
Azam Nazeer Tarar rose to claim that Imran Khan could not hold a Jalsi (small public meeting) and people did not come out from Punjab and those who came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not more than 10,000. He added this was also possible when in compliance with the Supreme Court order, the government let them come in and they breached the Constitution and the law. He said the law and law-enforcement agencies would perform their duty if and when the law and the Constitution were violated and PTI rioters had to be handled accordingly. He accused the PTI government of massive arrests of opposition members and creating every possible hurdles for their political events. “The nation has rejected their concocted narrative and in the local government elections in Balochistan, the PTI stood at 17 in terms of its success there,” he noted.
Dr Shahzad Waseem said they said people did not come out, then were they unleashing baton-charge, using tear gas and firing rubber bullets in the air? Islamabad was presenting the scene of Jallianwala that day. The rulers showed that they stood with Modi of India and Israel in their fascism.
JUIF Senator Imran Murtaza billed Imran Khan as “Inqilab Khan” and alleged that he was installed with the backing of the establishment and when they realized their miscalculation, they withdrew their support to him and he was ousted through a lawful way. He pointed out that not on the mainstream media but on social media, it was painful for him to see bashing of the Supreme Court orders despite the fact that a petition had been filed with reference to the march by “Inqilab Khan”. “I feel ashamed when courts are targeted, therefore, it will be better if the courts stay away from such matters,” he remarked.
Senator Murtaza accused Imran of using the official helicopter of the KP government and its resources for his so-called march and revolution.
The House unanimously adopted two resolutions moved by JI Senator Mushtaq Ahamd. The first resolution said: “The House in strong terms condemns the recent atrocities and violence of Israeli forces over innocent pilgrims and worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and decades-old blockade of Ghaza by the Israeli forces. The House therefore calls upon the government to utilize all diplomatic and publicity resources for highlighting the Palestinian dispute on all international and regional fora in coordination with all Muslim states and prepare a roadmap for the liberation of Palestinian territories.”
“The Senate of Pakistan is cognizant of the wide-spreading Islamophobia around the world and expresses dismay and shock caused by the contemptuous act of burning, tearing and desecrating the Holy Quran by Rasumus Paludan on April 14 in Sweden in sheer violation of international law and relevant UN resolutions,” said the second resolution, adding: “The House therefore calls upon the government to summon the ambassador of Sweden and convey in strong terms the sentiments of the people of Pakistan over the provocative act and demand stern legal action against the perpetrators. The House further calls upon the government to use political and diplomatic channels for discouraging occurrence of such provocative crimes against Muslim sentiments in the garb of freedom of expression in all UN member countries.”
Quorum was pointed out twice after PTI senators walked out, following their speeches. The first count found the House in order while during the second call made by a PTI senator regarding quorum, 18 senators were present in the House, forcing the chair to adjourn the session till Thursday morning.