The upper house of the Parliament is scheduled to hold a debate, on the coming Monday, on the resurgence of terrorism in the country as the senators, Friday, expressed strong concern over recent terrorist attacks in various parts of Pakistan.
Speaking on the floor of the House in the Senate sitting, Leader of the Opposition Yousaf Raza Gilani sought a briefing to Senate from Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed regarding resurgence of terrorism.
Later, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani said the House would hold a detailed debate on the issue in the coming Tuesday’s sitting after the question hour. He asked the interior minister to brief the House on Tuesday.
The interior minister requested the House to hold this sitting on Monday keeping in view that the federal cabinet meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, assuring that he would give the required briefing to the Senate on Monday.
The chairman accepted the minister’s request and announced to take up the issue of terrorist incidents in the country on Monday.
Rasheed said the recent terrorist attack in Islamabad claimed by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in which, a police constable was martyred was the first terrorist attack in the federal capital this year and fifth such attack on policemen in Islamabad. As many as 125 patrolling squads are operational in the federal capital, he added.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Abdul Ghafoor Haideri alleged that officials of Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) manhandled the office-bearers of the JUI-F, who went to a hospital to donate blood to the injured ones of the Lahore blast, and detained them for over an hour.
“We could have shut down Lahore, had we wanted to, in protest of this behaviour of the CTD. But we avoided the confrontational path and exercised restraint,” Haideri said. He asked the minister to be “ready—to deal with the challenges.”
Rasheed responded, “There is a difference between donating blood and making news—if this is proved true that the JUI-F office-bearers were manhandled, strict action would be initiated against those responsible.”
He dared Haideri to march towards Islamabad along with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. “We are all ready. You all should join hands and come to Islamabad. Maulana Fazalur Rehman should not come to Islamabad alone. He should bring along Bilawal. The energies of the police and the administration would not be wasted if you all enter Islamabad at once. We have no worries,” he said.
The interior minister’s remarks attracted opposition’s protest. Former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took on the interior minister for saying that the TTP was behind Lahore attack, which, he said, was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
Rabbani criticised the government’s policy to hold talks with the TTP. “Does the resurgence of terrorist activities by the TTP clearly not show that this approach (to hold talks with the TTP) was totally wrong?” he asked, demanding a briefing from the interior minister on the matter.
Saadia Abbasi from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) said her calling attention notice regarding deteriorating law and order situation in the country was not carried in the House’s business agenda.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar told the House that Ehsaas Nashonuma centres—providing healthcare to women and their children facing stunted growth—were set up in 15 districts countrywide, which, she said, would be expanded to every district of Pakistan.
Separately, three presidential ordinances: The National Rehmatul-Lil-Aalameen Authority Ordinance 2021, The Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance, 2021, and the Pakistan Nursing Council (Emergency Management) Ordinance, 2021 were laid in the Senate.
Security beefed up in Islamabad
Security was beefed up across federal capital on Friday, police said, a day after three people were killed and 22 wounded by a bomb in Lahore.
The country has suffered a string of blasts and attacks since December when a truce between the government and Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) lapsed.
But Thursday’s bomb blast — in a busy shopping district of Lahore — was claimed by the Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA), the newest of several separatist groups to emerge from Balochistan.
Police spokesperson Naeem Iqbal told AFP that security would be tightened in Islamabad, the seat of the government and home to dozens of embassies and other international institutions.
He said uniformed and plain-clothes officers would fan across the city, particularly in crowded areas such as markets.
Earlier this week a policeman was killed and two others wounded in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in the capital by two TTP militants who died in return fire.