EU MPs cancel talks with Pakistani senators
* Belgian Police detains Maulana Samiul Haq at airport
BRUSSELS: The European Parliament on Wednesday cancelled talks with a delegation of Pakistani senators to protest the inclusion of Maulana Samiul Haq.
British Labour member Neena Gill, who heads the European Union assembly’s South Asia inter-parliamentary committee, said talks were called off once they realised the Pakistani delegation included Samiul Haq, AP reported.
Samiul Haq, who heads his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S), is included among hardline clerics who opposed the US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and organised protest rallies against these attacks. “The European Parliament espouses the ideals of democracy, equality and human rights,” Gill said, adding that while the parliament has members who represent “all shades of the political spectrum”, EU lawmakers could not accept the participation of Samiul Haq. “We can’t condone therefore individuals who place themselves outside these parameters, for they represent everything we stand against,” she said.
Staff Report adds: Earlier on Wednesday, Belgian Police detained Samiul Haq at Brussels Airport for unknown reasons, sources said. It was learnt that Senator Mushahid Hussain, in Brussels at the time, tried to negotiate Samiul Haq’s release with the Belgian government for three hours, but in vain.
Sources said the Belgian government wanted to deport Samiul Haq, but Senators Mushahid Hussain, SM Zafar and Nisar Memon called Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad and requested him to intercede with the Belgian ambassador to Pakistan and persuade him to urge his government to refrain from deporting Samiul Haq.
However, the JUI-S chief was released on the condition that he would not address any gathering in Belgium, nor give any statements to the media. When Samiul Haq arrived at his hotel room, local police stopped him from stepping out. Maulana Sami told Daily Times that he could not understand why the Belgian government had arrested him if Germany had given him a visa.
Meanwhile, the delegation cancelled its meetings with the European Parliament after the Belgium government asked Samiul Haq to leave the country. In view of the Belgian government’s insulting behaviour, the Pakistani parliamentary delegation cancelled its meetings in protest, NNI reported.
The Pakistani delegation was told that the Belgian interior minister was in touch with Prime Minister Aziz over the issue. Later, Samiul Haq was asked to leave Belgium by 12:00am. The Pakistani delegation was told that it could meet with members of the European Parliament, but without Samiul Haq.
The JUI-S condemned the EU committee for refusing to meet the Pakistani delegation due to the inclusion of Samiul Haq.