Senators concerned over Karachi facility construction by US
28 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: A government legislator on Wednesday expressed concern in the Senate over media reports that the US Army Corps of Engineers has been granted permission to build a Tactical Command and Operations Centre (TCOC) compound at the Jinnah International Airport (JIAP), Karachi, to exchange information with the Pakistan Customs Drug Enforcement Cell concerning smuggling activities in and around Karachi.
Speaking on a call attention notice, Raza Rabbani said the US Army Corps of Engineers intends to solicit a request for proposal from construction firms or joint ventures (JV) experienced in working in the Middle East region and who are interested in submitting a proposal for the design and construction of Tactical Command and Operations Centre compound in Karachi. He was of the view that it was a violation of the terms of engagement and asked the government to take the House into confidence over the issue.
Rabbani and leader of the opposition Ishaq Dar lashed out at the government for not taking the House into confidence over such a vital issue. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Salim H Mandviwala sought time from the Chair to gather information in this regard. Upon this, Rabbani asked how could such an important issue escape the notice of the ministry concerned. He said that even the minister concerned seems not to have been taken into confidence over the issue.
According to the reports, the compound will support the officers, staff and equipment of the Pakistan Customs Drug Enforcement Cell and Rummaging and Patrolling Sections. The project will enable coordinated quick response to constantly evolving narcotics and contraband smuggling tactics in and around Karachi, including entire coastal line of Pakistan. According to project details, the company that gets the contract would be responsible for designing building a two-storey Tactical Command and Operations Centre consisting of a main block and a cell/interrogation building which would be built separately.
Meanwhile, the chairman referred "The Abolition of Privy Purses and Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2013", a money bill considered by the Naitonal Assembly speaker, to the finance standing committee. Senators Raza Rabbani, Ishaq Dar and Babar Awan objected over considering the bill as a money bill and asked the government to treat it as a simple bill, but the chairman ruled that the decision of the National Assembly speaker is final in this regard.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and MQM's Tahir Mashhadi exchanged good humoured remarks as they debated the issue of screening objectionable content by some TV channels. Defending what Tahir Mashadi dubbed as bold scenes on a channel, Kaira said the government cannot enforce censorship on private TV channels content as "obscenity" is not precisely defined. "It may be obscenity for me but may not be for others," he remarked.
However, Mashhadi replied, "The minister shuts his eyes in the evening…I tell you some TV channels used to screen very objectionable content." Kaira retorted, saying, "I don't watch what Mashhadi Sahib watches on TV in the night", which triggered laughter in the House. Meanwhile, ANP's Zahid Khan said the PTV telecast the rally of Tahirul Qadri live from Faisalabad just to let down the PML-N.