Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Govt put on the mat over NAP in NA, Senate

Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif
  • Opp MPs lash out at prime minister for not pushing ministers to improve governance
  • Khurshid Shah says military leadership’s critique on governance ‘an important hint to govt’
  • Senate chairman says bureaucratic bottlenecks hampering implementation of NAP
  • Govt says it will continue to work on NAP but responsibility for success lies with all institutions

The government offered a defence of itself as lawmakers in the National Assembly and Senate engaged in a heated debate Wednesday over a statement by the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), stressing the need for “matching and complimentary governance initiatives” to supplement the ongoing military operation.

At the Corps Commanders Conference on Tuesday, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif had acknowledged the nation’s support in the ongoing operations to eliminate terrorism. However, the army chief also “underlined the need for matching/complimentary governance initiatives for long term gains of operation and enduring peace across the country”, said the ISPR statement.

Referring to the prime minister and the army chief, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awam Party (PkMAP) leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai on the floor of the assembly on Wednesday remarked that ‘both Sharifs’ would be on the same page if the Constitution were supreme.

Achakzai said that he would not support any foreign policy that is not made in the Parliament.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, senior PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah criticised the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, saying that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not push his ministers for improvement of governance despite the army chief’s directions.

He accused the PML-N government of not taking the Parliament seriously, despite two and a half years have gone past since it was elected into power.

Why would the ministers’ attend the session if the prime minister himself has stopped coming to the House, Shah asked, adding that the Corps Commanders’ Conference has sought ‘better governance’, which is an important hint to the government.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shafqat Mahmood said that the ISPR statement pointed at the government’s incompetence.

Mahmood said the statement was a matter of concern for the federal government and it would have to perform. He also asked the government to brief the House on the progress being made on the National Action Plan.

PTI leader Arif Alvi said he supported ISPR’s statement, adding that military and civilian courts should operate in a complementary manner otherwise it would have negative implications on the fight against insurgency.

Earlier during the day, Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah pointed out the lack of quorum in the House and said, “The session can proceed once the princes are present.”

Earlier, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq during House proceedings suspended the session for 10 minutes to protest the absence of senior ministers of the federal government.

During the 10-minute break, the speaker also expelled junior officers of federal ministries from the assembly and called the secretaries of the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Finance.


Meanwhile in the Senate, Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said that bureaucratic bottlenecks were hampering implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) to tackle the menace of terrorism

Entire efforts of the government and Parliament against terrorism are being affected due to “bureaucratic bottlenecks,” he passed these remarks during the question-hour session of the Senate when Minister of State for Interior Muhammad Balighur Rehman informed the House about the posts laying vacant in the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA).

The minister said that NACTA had a total of 203 sanctioned posts, out of which 48 had been filled and 155 were still vacant, for which the recruitment process was underway.

He said the requisition for posting of seven officers on deputation had been sent to the Establishment Division, out of which two officers have joined the authority and the rest were not able to join due to one reason or the other. “Why it is taking so long?” the chairman questioned.

The minister said NACTA has an important role in the implementation of the National Action Plan initiated by the Federal government in consultation with all political parties to fight terrorism. He said the rules of NACTA had almost been finalised, but yet to be adopted.

To a question, Rehman said the National Crisis Management Cell of the Interior Ministry was being merged with NACTA to make the strategy against terrorism more effective.
Rabbani has suggested the government call a joint in-camera session of the two Houses to discuss the foreign policy and National Action Plan (NAP).

Rabbani asked the leader of the House in Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq that he will suggest the government for joint session to take the parliament into confidence over sensitive issues. He said that our parliamentarians should be aware of the proceedings regarding foreign policy of the country and implementation of NAP.


Reacting to the press statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the federal government later in the day issued a statement reiterating that it will continue to pursue the National Action Plan (NAP), and all other initiatives, to bring about a positive change in the life of the common man.

“However, it is to be noted that implementation of the National Action Plan is a shared responsibility and all institutions have to play their role, while remaining within the ambit of the constitution,” a government spokesman said in the press statement.

According to the statement, the decisive action taken by the government against extremism and terrorism over the past two years has been widely acknowledged.

“Successful implementation of this strategy was only possible due to broad political consensus achieved by this government, brave action by men and officers of armed forces and coordinated efforts by provincial governments, police, civil armed forces and intelligence agencies,” the statement added.

“The apex judiciary has also extended its full support to this effort. Most importantly, credit goes to the people of Pakistan, who wholeheartedly supported this operation,” the statement noted.

“True to its belief that it is accountable to the people of Pakistan, the government has taken all its decisions in an open and transparent manner, keeping the national interest as its foremost priority,” the statement said.

“The government’s firm commitment to good governance has been the hallmark of all its policies. The initiatives taken by the government are showing visible results in improved law and order situation and vibrant economic development,” the statement added.

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