ISLAMABAD: Responding to a lingering concern among opposition circles over the circumstances of a deadly shootout in Lahore last week involving a US mission employee, the government told the National Assembly on Tuesday it would do no favour to the arrested American and proceed according to Pakistani law.
The reassurance from Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira came after an opposition member sought clarifications over issues such as the status and nature of work of the American, Raymond Davis, who allegedly shot dead two Pakistani motorcyclists who he says were pursuing him for an attack on a road in Lahore on Thursday while a third Pakistani man was run over and killed by another vehicle that appeared on the scene at the time.
Earlier the house passed an opposition member’s private bill to provide for a parliamentary oversight of the privatisation of public sector enterprises with the inclusion of four parliament members in the Privatisation Commission Board after some sparks of anger over the absence of law and parliamentary affairs minister from the house that kept a private bill of a member of the ruling PPP seeking higher punishment for acid-throwing on women from being taken up for the second consecutive private member’s day of the present session.
“Your concern is the whole nation’s concern,” Mr Kaira said after a PML-N member of the house from Lahore, Khawaja Saad Raifque, raised the issue of the Lahore shooting, accusing the government of showing “one face to the nation and another to foreigners” and failing to clarify the status of the American who he said — quoting “our information” — was “doing some secret job” in the US Consulate-General in Lahore.
Mr Kaira said statements already made by President Asif Ali Zardari to an American Congress delegation on Sunday and by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani elsewhere about the government’s position to let the law take its course should have been enough to satisfy sceptics, and urged lawmakers to wait for the result of investigation by the police of the Punjab province, which is ruled by the PML-N.Yet he said: “We are with you on this issue, rather one step ahead. There will be no favour shown to him and (relevant) law will be acted upon.”
But two more opposition members, Dr Atiya Inayatullah of the opposition PML-Q and Sahibzada Mohammad Fazal-i-Karim of PML-N did not seem satisfied while Mr Rafique came back on the issue, prompting Mr Kaira to make a second appeal to them to wait for the investigation’s result before the house was adjourned until 10am on Wednesday.
The PPP’s Fakhar-un-Nisa Khokher, a former judge of the Lahore High Court, seemed taking a revenge on Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan as she forced a suspension of the house for lack of quorum after finding out that her bill seeking higher punishment for acid-throwing on women, which was on the top of the day’s legislative agenda, would not be taken up due to the minister’s absence.
Ms Khokher pointed out the lack of the required quorum of 86 members, or one-fourth of the 342-seat house, and insisted on a head count, ignoring pleas from Petroleum and Natural Resouces Minister Naveed Qamar and Speaker Fehmida Mirza to follow the general practice of not raising the quorum question on a private members’ day.