ISLAMABAD, July 9: The Senate witnessed on Monday a rare scene when members from the ruling PPP and its key allies joined a token walkout as a mark of protest against an acute water shortage in Gwadar forcing the residents to migrate to other parts of the country and even Iran.
The issue was raised by Mir Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party who said the entire district was facing a grave human tragedy and urged members from the opposition parties to join him before he walked out of the house.
He suggested that two ship-mounted desalination plants must be sent to Gwadar and Pasni because a population of 750,000 could not be provided drinking water through tankers.
The appeal evoked an amazing response because not only the opposition but also the ruling PPP and its key allies became part of the protest.
Raja Zafarul Haq of the PML-N termed the situation a national disaster and said it must be taken very seriously.
Mushahid Hussain of the PML-Q was the first from the treasury benches to join the walkout. He termed the tragedy a man-made disaster and called for urgently sending a fact-finding parliamentary mission to the area.
Mian Raza Rabbani of the PPP, Kulsoom Parveen of the BNP-A, Col (retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM and Afrasiab Khattak of ANP joined the walkout.
Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari directed Leader of the House Jehangir Badar to immediately get in touch with the chief minister and chief secretary of Balochistan and seek a report on the situation and inquire about the assistance needed from the federal government to solve the problem.
Mr Badar was directed to submit a report to the house on Tuesday.
Second review powers The MQM moved a bill in the Senate providing for empowering the Supreme Court to give power of second review to the apex court to deal with the cases of persons awarded death sentence or life imprisonment, to remedy the miscarriage of justice, if any.
The bill was moved by Nasreen Jalil, Col (retd) Tahir Mashhadi and Dr Farogh Naseem.
The bill proposes to put in place an extraordinary procedure to investigate and determine credible claims of factual innocence by such convicts. Under the bill, referred to the concerned standing committee of the house, the chief justice will constitute an independent commission to be called “Innocence Inquiry Commission of Pakistan”.
The commission would conduct inquiries into claims of factual innocence, with priority to be given to those cases in which the convicted person is currently incarcerated solely for a crime for which he or she claims factual innocence.
The MQM moved another bill to provide for curative review jurisdiction to the Supreme Court so as to remedy any miscarriage of justice in the rarest and exceptional circumstances.