By Iftikhar A. Khan
July 20, 2008
July 20, 2008
ISLAMABAD, July 19: A Pakistan Senate body on Saturday called for immediate closure of the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention centre and release of six Pakistanis imprisoned there.
The Senate functional committee on human rights, presided over by Senator S.M. Zafar, unanimously adopted a resolution on the issue moved by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.
The committee noted that Guantanamo Bay was being run in violation of the norms of a civilised world, Senator Mushahid told Dawn.
The committee discussed the issue of alleged detention of a Pakistani woman at the US army’s Bagram centre in Afghanistan for four years.
The committee underlined the need for coordinated efforts to find if there was any woman detained in Bagram or the Guantanamo Bay.
They asked the ministries of interior, foreign affairs and human rights to take up the matter with the US intelligence agencies.
Secretaries to the ministries of interior, law and justice and human rights and senior officials of the foreign ministry informed the committee about the steps taken to trace the woman reportedly tortured at the Bagram detention centre.
The committee was informed that the interior ministry had approached the ministry of foreign affairs to take up the issue with the US officials and authorities at the Bagram military base.
Foreign ministry officials informed the committee that the matter was being pursued vigorously. Senators Mushahid, Mohammad Abbas Komaili, Mohammad Ali Durrani, Hafiz Abdul Rashid, Nasar Khan and Dr Mohammad Said attended the meeting.
BORDER SITUATION: Another Senate body at a separate meeting expressed concern over the situation on the western border and condemned the threats emanating from Afghanistan.
The committee on defence and defence production, presided over by Senator Nisar Ahmed Memon, unanimously adopted a resolution supporting government’s efforts for combating terrorism and extremism.
Mr Memon told Dawn that the committee had urged the government to redouble efforts for improving security in Fata and the NWFP.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and member of the committee, requested the chair to make arrangements for summoning a joint session of parliament to discuss the current situation.
Mr Memon said the committee had expressed concern over the delay in finalisation of the Civil Aviation Policy and asked the government to consult all stakeholders, including PIA, before finalising the policy.
The committee asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to provide better facilities to the passengers at airports.
It expressed concern over substandard passenger buses, unhygienic conditions at lounges and toilets, lack of parking space at the airports and poor maintenance of aircraft.
The committee said the cumulative effect of all these factors was that people were shying away from air travel and the airline industry was not contributing substantially to the economic growth.
CAA Director General Farooq Rehmatullah briefed the committee on salient features of the new aviation policy and said it provided a framework that encouraged competition and development of new and expended international air services to benefit travellers, shipping and tourism sectors.
“It gives an opportunity to Pakistani airlines to grow and compete successfully in a more liberalised global environment. It enables airports to market themselves, unhindered by the bilateral constraints to a great extent. It supports and facilitates the objectives of the National Transport Master Plan and NTC. It ensures safe, secure, efficient and economically healthy air transportation in Pakistan,” he added.
Mr Rehmatullah said the Gilgit airport was being expanded. He said that night landing equipment would be made available for the Quetta airport and snow-clearing equipment was being procured for the Chitral airport.
Senators Mushahid Hussain, Kamil Ali Agha, Syed Dilawar Abbas, Naeem Hussain Chattha, Ms Saddia Abbasi, Ms Rukhsana Zuberi, Minister for Defence Ahmed Mukhtar and secretary defence attended the meeting.
Source: Dawn, Islamabad