ISLAMABAD - Opposition parties on Monday staged a protest walkout from the Senate against the government’s failure to brief the house on the alleged jailbreak plan to free Dr Shakeel Afridi, the man who helped the CIA to track down Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

The protest was launched after a condemnation by lawmakers from both sides of the isle against the gun attack on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal the other day.  

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Friday summoned interior and foreign ministers to brief the house on Monday about the reports saying that Dr Afridi had been shifted from a prison in Peshawar to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail following an abortive attempt by the US’ Central Intelligence Agency to free him.

Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, who had raised the issue in the House on Friday, reminded Senate chairman that he had summoned the two ministers. The chairman said that the interior minister, who was supposed to make a statement, was attacked on Sunday evening. Rabbani, however, insisted that he had also summoned the foreign minister and that some other ministers could have briefed the house.

Following this, Rabbani announced to stage a walkout, which was also joined by members from other opposition parties. The PkhMAP from the treasury side also joined the protest.

Before joining her colleges who staged a walkout, Leader of Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman endorsed Rabbani’s view and noted that at least someone from amongst members of the cabinet should have spoken on behalf of the injured minister.

She also said that there were 60 ministers in the cabinet while the law permits appointment of 11 percent of the total strength of the parliament as ministers. She urged the government to follow democratic norms and bring the cabinet to a lawful size. “Those who talk about sanctity of ballot should also respect the law,” she remarked.

Earlier, condemning the attack on the interior minister, she said that the incident was dangerous for democracy and prayed that they would soon see the minister back to work. Rabbani said that the attack should not be taken mere as an incident and needed to be probed thoroughly. He recalled that they had been working with Iqbal when the historical document of Charter of Document was being prepared.

The house also unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the repression of citizens in the Indian held Kashmir by the Indian government. The Senate called upon the international community to end its indifference and deliberate negligence of the systematic repression of Kashmiris by Indian security forces through disappearances, the use of human shields, staged encounters, rapes, live ammunition, illegal search and seizure and pellet guns. 

Through a resolution, the Senate acknowledged that the flame of freedom burns brightly in the hearts of the Kashmiri people and that Indian policy of using extreme force and repression has failed to extinguish the enduring flame of freedom.  

It reiterated that the Pakistani government, elected representatives and the people of Pakistan stand firmly with their Kashmiri brothers and sisters suffering under the yoke of Indian occupation. 

The Senate demanded that the government of Pakistan should appoint a special envoy for Kashmir as per earlier resolution of this house over the issue. 

It reiterated that Pakistan would continue its robust moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people towards the day when they will exercise their recognized right to self-determination under resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations.