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Senate debated over selling nuclear weapons to Saudi-Arab

02 March, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate of Pakistan on Tuesday saw a heated debate over the reports that oil-rich Saudi Arabia might buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan.

Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani admitted an adjournment motion moved by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Hafiz Hamdullah despite government’s opposition, with directives that the house would hold a through debate on the issue by next Tuesday. Citing an interview of US Secretary of State John Kerry to a foreign news channel, Senator Hamdullah said that Saudi Arabia could buy nuclear bomb from Pakistan.

Amid mounting tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, he said, Riyadh could buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Any such move would destabilise the Middle East as well as Pakistan, he said. “The reports say that Saudi Arabia has good relations with Pakistan. If media reports are to be believed, Riyadh may buy a nuclear bomb from Pakistan. It will be very dangerous for our security,” the JUI-F senator maintained.

Federal Minister for Commerce and Trade Khurram Dastgir Khan opposed the adjournment motion, saying a local newspaper misquoted the US secretary of state. He read out the questions asked by the CNN interviewer and Kerry’s replies to those questions to support his contention that Kerry was misquoted. “Kerry did not mention even the name of Pakistan,” he said.

The House was informed that a national census would be taken this year and the reason for a delay in the census was the ongoing military operation against militants in the restive North Waziristan Agency (NWA).

Responding to a question, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada said the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had decided in its last meeting on March 18, 2015 that the census would be taken in March 2016, as per the recommendation of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

To a question regarding visas issued by the Pakistani embassies in different countries, the commerce minister said that 1,117,274 visas were issued during the last five years. He said that 193,144 visas were issued to Indians, 392,122 to Afghans, 15,609 to Bangladeshis, 4918 to Russian, 312,735 to Britons and 198,746 to Americans.

The Senate chairman stalled a resolution seeking to pay a tribute to Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. He said that several Pakistani women made sacrifices to stop honor killings; therefore, their names should also be included in the resolution. He asked the lawmakers to submit an amended draft having the names of other women’s rights activists when the house meets for the next session.

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