ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in the Senate on Monday called on parliament to play its role in unearthing the elements behind the mysterious disappearances and equally mysterious reappearances of the bloggers.
Through a joint motion PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar and Usman Khan Kakar of PkMAP on the mysterious disappearances of bloggers urged the Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani to form a special committee to look into the matter as the police, they claimed, was yet to find a clue to the elements behind these kidnappings.
On his part, however, Rabbani dropped no hint on the possibility of formation of a special committee despite insistence by the movers, who emphasised that the police had failed to register a case as the bloggers had been badly terrified by their abductors not to open their lips upon their release.
“The police went to the bloggers’ homes to record their statements but they refused hence involvement of parliament could help the police in going after the abductors, as they are not visible but they are believed to be more powerful than the judiciary, parliament and the police,” said Senator Babar.
In such a situation, Senator Babar contended that the parliament must step forward and fulfill its responsibilities towards citizens’ freedom, adding if it was not done and parliament shied away from its responsibility, the practice of making citizens disappear with impunity will become a norm with grave implications.
“Mystery surrounded their disappearances and mystery surrounds their return also. During the period they remained disappeared a systematic campaign of incitement to violence was carried out against them accusing them of blasphemy in a section of the media and on the internet,” he added.
Babar argued that if the bloggers were indeed guilty of blasphemy, they must be severely punished in accordance with the law. “However, condemning them in the media without proof and without trial raised serious questions about the motives behind their disappearances,” he said.
“There is a lingering suspicion that those criticising the state narratives on security issues are sought to be silenced by accusing them of blasphemy thereby exposing them to public wrath and make them on the run. If this indeed is true and if not checked in time, it will spell disaster,” he warned.
He said parliament should play a role to encourage the reappeared persons tell the stories of their disappearance and reappearance and the issue is not allowed to be hushed up. The practice of watching the disappearances and reappearances from the sidelines as if nothing had happened is abdication of responsibility and it must not be allowed to gain roots, he said.
Babar said the road to rule of law may be long and tortuous but it should not deter parliament from ensuring that rule of law prevailed in the country, adding parliament must back the investigators and extend right assurances to the missing persons and their families to reach to the truth and thus help end the practice.
Senator Kakar and Col (retd) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM also endorsed Senator Babar, saying if anybody is found guilty of committing blasphemy, he should be hanged, but the trend of picking up people based on social media reports is quite dangerous.
Ruling PML-N’s Senator Nehal Hashmi said that former president Asif Zardari would have to explain his position after his close aide Husain Haqqani admitted having facilitated the deployment of US spies in Pakistan to track down Osama bin Laden.
Haqqani, a former ambassador to US, admitted facilitating the stationing of US special operations and intelligence personnel on Pakistani soil and forging links that eventually allowed Washington to carry out the raid in Abbottabad to eliminate Osama bin Laden.
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Haqqani also indicated that while Islamabad was ‘officially kept out of the loop’, the Pakistan People’s Party-led government was aware of both the developments.
Speaking on the deferred motion by Senators Farhatullah Babar and Usman Kakar, Hashmi demanded that ‘Haqqani type people staging propaganda against national security by sitting abroad should also be made accountable’.
“Zardari will have to clarify his position about these people who are discussing our national security and nukes by sitting in Delhi or elsewhere. The nation wants to know what Zardari got for deals on Raymond Davis and others with the US in return,” he pointed out.
However, Senator Babar, who served as the spokesman of Zardari, who was the president of Pakistan, plainly rejected the claim made by Haqqani, saying all visa seekers from the US were issued visas under the laid down rules and proper wetting from the intelligence agencies.
“I am not a spokesman to Haqqani, but I did witness all the happenings taking place in the presidency, and there is no truth in whatever has been said about the visas. All those [Americans] who came to Pakistan traveled on proper visas. No rules were flouted and proper vetting was done by the intelligence agencies,” he added.
Senator Babar said that all visas were issued in accordance with the laid down procedure involving various state agencies and no irregularity whatsoever was committed.
He made it clear that there were no complaints from any government organisation in respect of the visas issued. Babar added that he was spokesperson of Zardari and would confine his remarks to the extent of questions raised about Zardari and not say anything about Hussain Haqqani and his article.