By Monis Bin Ali
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s latest announcement of nominating 22 parliamentarians as special envoys to highlight Indian atrocities and human rights abuses in Kashmir in the presence of already existing Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir has cast doubts on the intentions of the government.
According to a statement issued by the prime minister, the nominated members would be sent in different parts of the world to fight the Kashmir cause so that he can ‘shake the collective conscience of the international community’ during his address at the UN this September.
But, there is no justification of sending the parliamentarians abroad to raise the issue sans questioning the performance of the existing Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir.
According to the National Assembly’s website, the mandate of the 22-member committee, led by Jamiat Ulema e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and comprising members of almost all major political parties, are as followed:
– To monitor violations of human rights and atrocities being committed by the Indian forces in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
– To mobilize world opinion in support of the cause of right of self determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the stand of Pakistan.
– To solicit and provide political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their just struggle for their right of self determination in accordance with the UN Resolutions.
– To consider and decide such other issues and matters relating to above which may be referred to it by the House from time to time.
According to a report published in a newspaper last month, the committee used up to Rs 175 million while conducting only three meetings, 21 press statements and several foreign trips in the last three years. The budget of the Kashmir committee is far higher than other parliamentary committees since it enjoys a special status.
The prime minister’s announcement also drew criticism from the opposition, with the Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari accused the former of cronyism.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) August 27, 2016
The prime minister should have decided the fate of the committee before assigning its role to 22 parliamentarians in order to avoid doubts and bringing more transparency in his move.
The writer is a member of staff.