ISLAMABAD - Ministry of Interior Tuesday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the US embassy in Islamabad for up-gradation of a firing range in the Diplomatic Enclave has been cancelled.

Special Secretary Interior Mian Waheeduddin told the committee that the “decision to upgrade the firing range with the help of US Embassy has been withdrawn.”

The committee had taken notice of reports regarding construction of a firing range in the Diplomatic Enclave by the US embassy .

In July 2018, when the caretaker government was in power, the interior ministry had signed an MoU with the embassy to upgrade the firing range. The facility existed in the enclave for several years and had been constructed for Islamabad police.

Senator Abdul Qayyum told the meeting that he had also raised this matter in the house. Earlier, the embassy had floated an advertisement on its website for the up-gradation of facility and the firms were asked to submit their bids for the same, he added.

Committee Chairman Senator Rehman Malik says such MoU had no legal value as the same could not be signed without consent of Cabinet Division

Committee Chairman Senator Rehman Malik remarked that such MoU had no legal value as the same could not be signed without consent of Cabinet Division.

The lawmakers raised their concerns on construction of any firing range in the precincts of high security zone like the enclave. The chair directed Islamabad police chief to hold an inquiry and submit a report on the “hidden motives if any behind signing of such MoU and discarding the same lately.” He asked secretary interior to also submit a detailed report on the findings of the inquiry.

The chair underscored that it was time to review implementation status of National Action Plan (NAP) in the wake of fresh wave of terrorism in the country. “An exclusive meeting on one point agenda of NAP will be held soon,” he added. He directed that the ministry should inform the committee about its availability for the briefing.

Discussing issue of forced disappearances, Senator Malik remarked that it was being reported that a missing person namely Hamal Khan was among those involved in attack on Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar. “Later, it revealed that the news related to Hamal Khan was fake,” he said, adding that government had not issued a denial in this regard so far.

The committee also deliberated on the problems being faced by the people in getting their computerised national identity cards (CNICs) issued all over the country. Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Usman Yousaf Mobin informed the committee that over 200,000 citizens were filing applications for obtaining CNICs daily. NADRA issues 68,000 CNICs to applicants on daily basis, he added.

“NADRA receives 200 complaints on daily basis,” Mobin said, adding that over 8000 complaints have so far been received through Prime Minister’s Citizen Portal. He claimed that authority was addressing any public complaint within a day.

The committee recommended establishment of a special cell at Nadra Headquarters for addressing public complaints. It directed the authority to set up a complaint cell at Pakistan’s embassy in United Arab Emirate (UAE) as overseas Pakistanis there were facing problems in getting CNICs.

The meeting also considered longstanding administrative, financial and legal issues existing between the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI).

Senator Malik stated that under the ICT Local Government Act, 2015, there were 37 directorates which had to be shifted from CDA to MCI and out of which 22 directorates had been transferred to date.

Secretary Interior retired Major Azam Suleman Khan in his briefing said the Local Government Act, 2015 had so far not been implemented completely.

The committee directed that the employees of CDA should not be transferred to MCI without their consent as this was contrary to the rules of the act. It directed the Ministry of Interior to implement recommendations of the sub-committee, which was formed to resolve longstanding issues between CDA and MCI, within 15 days and submit a report.

The meeting also asked the ministry to share details of funds transferred by CDA to MCI and also inform that how much funds would be transferred to the corporation in future. It said that transaction should be completed at earliest.

The interior secretary, MCI mayor, CDA and Nadra chairmen, Nadra director general, deputy inspector general (security) Islamabad police, DIG Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, senior superintendent of police Abbottabad attended the meeting, besides lawmakers and other senior officers.