Islamabad (February 20, 2018): The senate session was once again echoed with debate related to Pakistan’s decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Senior PPP Leader and Senator Farhatullah Babar raised various questions once again and expressed concerns about the decision to deploy additional troops to Saudi Arabia, saying there’s a risk of Pakistani armed forces getting pulled into the Yemen conflict.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Babar said his reservations on the issue remain as Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir had outright refused to answer some questions about the deployment.
“If the troops were deployed along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border they could soon get sucked in [the] quagmire under the doctrine of hot pursuit,” he said.Babar said it should be placed on record whether Pakistani troops will be deployed on the Saudi border and whether they could be sent to Yemen to take part in the conflict there.
“You will soon hear [the news] that the [Pakistani] armed forces personnel have gone to Yemen,” he said, adding that it would be “disastrous” if that actually happened.
Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani once again lashed out at the federal government for concealing information from the parliament, saying politicians only talk about the supremacy of parliament. “Is this supremacy of parliament? he mockingly asked.
He observed that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was aware of the deployment decision but the parliament was kept in the dark and the defence minister had refused to divulge the details.Making a policy statement in the Senate on Monday, the defence minister had stunned senators by bluntly refusing to divulge the location of the deployment of troops being sent to Saudi Arabia even in an in-camera session.
The Senate chairman had on Monday threatened Dastagir with ‘contempt of parliament’ proceedings after the minister said he could not share operational details of the Pakistani contingent’s deployment.
The defence minister had, however, revealed that some Pakistani 1,600 troops were already deployed in Saudi Arabia while more than 1,000 troops were to be dispatched under a decision recently finalised.
He said the troops being sent as part of ‘enhanced cooperation’ with Saudi Arabia would be deployed within the geographical boundaries of the Kingdom to impart training to Saudi troops as they had learnt skills of mountain warfare and counterterrorism, which was not the case when the military cooperation with Saudi Arabia started under a protocol signed in 1982.The Senate was also informed on Tuesday that due to effective measures of the government the net enrollment rate of school children has improved from 68 percent to 77 percent in last four years.
Minister of for Federal Education and Professional Training Baligh-ur-Rehman informed the House during questions hour that an additional capacity of about five million children has been created to enroll children in public sector schools across the country.
He said that about four million out of school children has been enrolled in schools. He said free primary education is being provided in all public sector schools across Pakistan and provincial governments are providing required funding for this purpose.
Baligh-ur-Rehman said that Punjab government has incentivized parents of children working on brick kilns in the province for sending their wards to schools.To another question, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch informed the House that 10,715 Pakistanis are imprisoned abroad.
He said that 36,832 Pakistani prisoners have been released and repatriated to Pakistan during the last four years.
Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry has said that issuance of licenses for automatic weapons has been banned to check illegal weapons in the country.
He was winding up a discussion on a motion moved by Senator Muhammad Usman Kakar and others regarding government’s policy of banning the issuance of licenses for automatic weapons in the country.
Talal Chaudhry said that illegal weapons are sold and purchased in the garb of licensed automatic arms.
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He said that these weapons are usually used in terrorism and other crimes in the country. He said that banning issuances of licenses for automatic weapons is a good step taken in the right direction.
He, however, said that positive suggestions from the Parliamentarians will be welcomed in this regard.