Government rules out offices of banned outfits

* ANP expresses resentment over PTI’s offer to Taliban to open office
Government rules out offices of banned outfits

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of parliament was informed on Tuesday that there was no proposal under consideration for the establishment of banned organisations’ offices in the country. 
“The issue relates to news reports. The federal government has no proposal under consideration regarding setting up of offices by banned organisations. We have also not received any formal request in this regard,” Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rehman told the House in response to a calling attention notice. The notice was moved by the ANP senators who had expressed resentment over the statement of a PTI minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government about the establishment of such offices. 
The calling attention notice was to draw attention of the minister of interior regarding the offer put forward by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Shaukat Yousafzai to the Taliban to set up an office in Peshawar. The members had contested that how could the banned outfits be allowed for setting up regular offices like political parties when they do not recognise the constitution and writ of the state. Furthermore, they had stated that many among them are killers and proclaimed offenders and carry head money on them. 
The minister in response said that statements attributed to Imran Khan and the provincial minister are media reports while the government has not received anything formally from Imran Khan or the provincial government. “There is clarity in the stance and stand of the federal government and there is no such proposal under consideration,” he added. He assured the legislators of necessary action if any action is taken against the law and the constitution. “The government cannot remain silent on such an act and shall move forward to stop it.”
He said the government is fully aware of its duties across the country, especially the troubled areas. “We have an eye of the circumstances and believe that terrorists should not be allowed to set up offices and have no such intention.” The ANP Senator Afrasiab Khattak said that the minister had offered an office to the organisation that is banned; such statements will subvert the whole discourse of the negotiations he added, demanding that the government clear its stance.  Khattak was joined by Senators, Zahid Khan and Haji Adeel, who demanded that the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa be questioned about the statement of his minister. 
The state minister’s reply was that the government was very clear on the issue, but the ANP senators joined by the rest of the opposition walked out in protest unsatisfied with the reply. The opposition and the government benches remained divided on amending the Federal Public Service Commission Ordinance, 1977 as passed by the National Assembly. The senators who opposed the amendment equated it to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) stating that though the bill was passed from the National Assembly, it seemed to be mala-fide in its intent to favour an individual over an institution. 
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the opposition was united in its stance and that his party had voted in favour of the motion to discuss the amendment and suggested to send it to the concerned committee. Senator Haji Adeel said that they would have opposed the amendment even if they were consulted on the issue as the experience with Fakhruddin G Ibrahim previously had not been too good because of the age factor. Senators from the opposition said that smaller provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan should also be given equal representation in selecting officials for key posts.
Leader of the house Raja Zafarul Haq claimed that he believed that the decisions made by consensus and the bill may be sent to the select committee after discussion. He refuted the claim that the amendment was to favor an individual but to increase the options for the post of the CEC. The bill was referred to the relevant committee.

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