*NA Committee on Foreign Affairs calls for transfer of prisoners treaties, ratification of Rome Statute.
Ratification of Intentional Conventions on enforced disappearances, Ratification of conventions on rights of all migrant workers, and report about the death of Arshad Sharif*
Islamabad, : The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed Pakistan’s international treaties, international assistance for flood relief operations, mechanisms for transfer/repatriation of prisoners abroad, tracing and recovery of a Pakistani doctor Mr. Saqib Raza who is illegally detained in Syrian Kurdistan and appointment of Honorary Counsellors in Pakistan. The Chairman of the Committee MNA Mohsin Dawar presided the meeting held on Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Committee was briefed about Pakistan’s various international treaties. The Committee recommended that the Government of Pakistan should ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, affirm the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families respectively. The Committee also examined the matter pertaining to tracing and recovery of Dr. Saqib Raza, a Pakistani maxillofacial surgeon illegally in Syrian Kurdistan. The mother of the detained doctor Saqib Raza was invited to the meeting. The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that Pakistani mission in Damascus engaged the ICRC, UNHCR and UNICEF to trace Pakistani nationals detained in Syrian Kurdistan. However, repatriation of such detainees requires policy formulation from the Ministry of Interior. The Committee noted with concern and regretted that such a policy was not devised in four years since the case was reported. The Committee directed to call the Ministry of the Interior to the next meeting on the same subject and urged the Foreign Office to consider the case on priority basis.
The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the Committee that the Pakistani missions provide comprehensive assistance to Pakistani prisoners abroad. However, the transfer of prisoners and offenders requires bilateral treaties with various countries. Such agreements were concluded and ratified with the concurrence of the both sides to the agreement. The members raised concerns as to why such arrangements were still not in place as Pakistani prisoners languish in foreign jails. The Committee underlined the need for a clear political direction regarding Transfer of Prisoners Treaties with various countries and directed to call the Ministry of Interior the next meeting of the Committee.
The Committee was informed that in response to UN Flash appeal, pledges worth $270 million have been made. Of these pledges, $170 million has been converted to firm commitments. On members’ queries regarding cumulative assistance received, it was reported that Pakistan has received $3.4 billion for flood relief operations and reconstruction. It was also highlighted that Pakistan has received 140 special relief flights, 13 trains and 6 ships carrying relief items. In response to the members concerns whether the Flash appeal was successful in meeting the desired targets, it was observed that the appeal was mildly successful against the ambitious target set, however, given the international community’s shift in attention to Ukraine, Flash appeal was a success. It was also outlined that Pakistan played a lead role in the international consensus for the establishment of Loss and Damage Fund in COP 27. This was a major breakthrough to establish institutional arrangements to address climate induced disasters particularly in developing world. The members remarked that compared to the scale of disaster, the response of the international community was not commensurate with the scale of support rendered in 2010 flood and 2005 earthquake. They outlined that declining international interest in the region and don’t fatigue were key obstacles to Pakistan’s appeal.
In the next meeting the Committee would call the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to brief the Committee on treaties for transfer of prisoners and offenders with various countries and the report of the inquiry Commission about Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif’s death in Kenya.
MNA Mohsin Dawar, MNA Muhammad Khan Daha, MNA Ramesh Kumar, MNA Muhammad Abubakar, MNA Zahra Wadood Fatemi, MNA Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, and MNA Syed Abrar Ali Shah attended the meeting.