ISLAMABAD-  The Senate today will hold a debate on the mysterious disappearance of former Pakistani army officer on the border of Nepal and India amid some reports that the Indian spy agency, RAW, had kidnapped him.

It is widely believed that Lt Col (retd) Mohammad Habib was kidnapped by RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) during his visit to Nepal to use him as a bargaining chip for seeking back custody of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav. A Pakistani military tribunal has recently awarded Jadhav death sentence for committing espionage and sabotage activities in Pakistan. The chair admitted the adjournment motion of MQM Senator Ateeq Sheikh admissible and a discussion would be held on it today.

In this connection, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz informed the house that separate FIRs (first information report) of the incident had been registered in Nepal as well as in Pakistan.

Before the chair admitted the motion, the advisor briefly informed the house that the ex-military officer went missing some five kilometres away from Nepal’s border with India, where his mobile phone was found switched off.

All people who received Habib at the Kathmandu airport were all Indians and his family had sought the UN body’s help for his recovery, he said.

Separately, all opposition parties staged a token walkout from the house after expressing dissatisfaction over the reply given by State Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar. They said that the state minister gave no reason why Saudi Arabia had refused to accept (polio) health certificates of Pakistanis. She said that in 2017, so far, only two cases of polio had been reported from Lodhran (Punjab) and Diamer (Gilgit-Baltistan).

PTI Senators Mohsin Aziz and Azam Swati had questioned why health certificates were not being accepted by Saudi Arabia.

Senator Talha Mahmood of JUI-F blamed Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani saying, “you only care about yourself and don’t accord respect to others”. He said this when the chair did not allow him to ask a supplementary question about Pakistani citizen Dr Aafia Siddiqui jailed in US. He also pointed out quorum and later walked out from the house as a protest. The chair was of the view that three supplementary questions had already been asked on the main question and the rules did not allow the fourth one.

Sartaj Aziz updating the house about Dr Siddiqui said that efforts were still underway for her return to the country. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had written a letter to the then US President Barrack Obama during last days of his presidency, seeking mercy for her, which was rejected. Among other things, she was constantly being provided counsellor access.  Responding to a calling attention notice of MQM lawmaker Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Sartaj Aziz said that with the brutal killing of Kashmiri youth Burhan Wani in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) last year, 250 Kashmiris were martyred while scores of other wounded and taken into custody in the troubled area.

Recently, people of Kashmiri again rejected the sham bye-poll in Indian Occupied Kashmir, while Indian forces used brute forces, which claimed nine lives, including that of a child. He said that Pulwama College was also raided and videos of violence on students were available on social media.

Separately, the government agreed to give an in-camera briefing to the house about a recent ruling of an arbitration tribunal of World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in relation to denial of a mining lease to Reko Diq project in 2011.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the house that the issue was under litigation and he is ready to give an in-camera briefing to the house, to which the house agreed. Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani directed the minister to give the in-camera briefing by the next session that is scheduled for May 8.

The lawmakers said that the agreement with Tethyan Copper Company Limited (TCC) was signed by a caretaker government, which was in no way acceptable, and there should be a legislation to bar caretaker governments from inking any such deal with foreign countries.

This prompted Rabbani to observe if the parliamentarians are serious to stop the caretaker governments from signing any foreign agreements, they must move an amendment, focusing that all such agreements should be ratified by the Parliament. He made this observation during a debate on an adjournment motion by Senator Saifullah Magsi about implications of the arbitration tribunal of World Bank’s ICSID on arbitration claims filed by TCC against Pakistan in relation to denial of a mining lease to Reko Diq project.

PTI Senator Shibli Faraz also condemned renowned scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand for misleading the government about different goldmine and energy projects without making any significant progress on them. ANP Senator Ilyas Bilour also accused Dr Samar Mubarakmand of pocketing billions of rupees from federal and provincial government under the pretext of producing electricity through coal and wind.