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NA wants deweaponisation of whole country

21 November, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: A visibly split Lower House adopted a resolution on Tuesday moved by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement for deweaponisation of the country, however, it exposed the clear fault lines between the political parties on this critical issue with the Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl voting against it.

Voting on the resolution was so hasty that the stance of the ruling Pakistan People's Party members was not clear with Noor Alam Khan later accusing Yasmeen Rahman, who was chairing the proceedings, of bulldozing the resolution as voting was not carried out properly.

The House looked divided right from the beginning when the MQM was allowed to table the resolution on deweaponisation of country, and the division deepened further when it was put on vote, as some members of the ANP and PML-N opposed it. The MQM also came under sharp criticism, particularly by ANP members, who alleged the party of introducing militancy and bloodshed in Karachi since its inception.

The resolution said security of the people and peace in the country was under constant threat due to widespread use of arms in the country. "It is now imperative to ban the use of any weapon or arms in public in the country," it said. It urged the government to take effective measures to deweaponise the entire country in larger interest of the people of the country.

The bone of contention between the two parties was the emphasis of the MQM on clearing the country of weapons and the ANP's thrust for launching a "cleanup operation" beginning from Karachi, a stronghold of its political rival.

Chief of his own faction of the JUI, Fazlur Rehman, covertly criticised the MQM for its deceptive resolution, saying double standards of carrying out terrorism and proving themselves innocent on the other hand was unacceptable.

"The process should start from dismantling the militant wings in Karachi by disarming them as mere resolutions would be an eyewash and would not serve the purpose," Fazl exclaimed. He said deweaponisation was not a simple task that could be dealt by passing resolutions and urged that policies that had been fuelling militancy in the country should be changed.

Fazl pointed out that the Supreme Court held the Frontier Corps responsible for missing persons and ordered the Inter-Services Intelligence to abolish its death squad. But these orders had been complied with, he remarked.

Syed Khursheed Shah, PPP chief whip, supported the MQM's resolution and felt there was a need for clearing the whole the country of illegal weapons. He said talks of carrying out the task only in Sindh and Karachi was not the right approach and would not serve the purpose until the "nursery" of these weapons was eliminated.

However, his party colleague, Noor Alam Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, opposed the resolution and supported the ANP over its stance of an operation in Karachi.

He also strongly objected to the words of MQM's Dr Farooq Sattar that these arms were manufactured in KP and Tribal Areas and said it amounted to labelling the Pashtuns as terrorists. "If you would have established industries, these arm factories would not be functioning," Noor remarked.

He also targeted the chief justice of Pakistan by passing remarks against him, which the chair expunged, for silence over the May 12, 2007 bloodshed in Karachi and said he was not afraid of making these comments even if he was put behind bars by the chief justice.

ANP's Bushra Gohar said voting on the resolution should be done away with as only one party supported it, and without naming said one foreigner sitting in London was interfering in the matters of Karachi daily.

The most scathing criticism came from ANP's Himayatullah Mayar on the MQM, who said the party was opposed to an operation in Karachi but supported one in Waziristan.

"The operation in Karachi is urgently required as one party has made this city hostage and process of deweaponisation should start from Karachi," Mayar remarked.

PML-N's Rohail Asghar said such resolutions would not serve any purpose, and questioned whether the new one would clear the city of illegal weapons.


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