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NA pays tribute to Mandela

December 07, 2013


— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD, Dec 6: Both houses of parliament mourned for Nelson Mandela on Friday, but there was apparently unconcern about the South African statesman’s vision of national reconciliation that Pakistan’s two main political parties had once made a pact to pursue.

Glowing tributes were paid to the iconic leader and one minute’s silence, followed by a prayer, was observed for him in the Senate, after a quick and haphazard disposal of the event in the National Assembly.

Both houses unanimously passed identical resolutions, moved by the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security, Sartaj Aziz, recalling Mandela’s struggle for the rights of the deprived and oppressed of his own country and the world over, as well as his visits in 1992 and 1999 to Pakistan. He addressed a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament during the second visit.

But there was no mention of a landmark commitment made by the leaders of the PML-N and PPP in the 2006 Charter of Democracy (CoD) to form a Mandela-model Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission had been proposed to reveal the past wrongdoings of governments and non-state actors as a means to resolving leftover internal conflicts.

Nor any fresh vows were made to honour Mandela’s memory by implementing that part of the CoD.

The opposition leader in the National Assembly, Khursheed Ahmed Shah of the PPP, had demanded in a recent speech to the house that the PML-N make good on the remainder of the CoD while claiming that the previous PPP-led government had implemented most of it. But he did not raise the point again on Friday.

While acrimony of Thursday’s debate over the sacking of the chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority amid a controversy over verification of votes cast in the May 11 election was still fresh, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi of the PML-N hurriedly put the government’s resolution to vote. Then he adjourned the house until Monday, even without asking the lawmakers to observe a minute’s silence to mourn Mandela.But the tribute was much more dignified and glowing in the Senate afterwards, where Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari of the PPP not only himself spoke but allowed speeches by parliamentary leaders of all parties.

A minute’s standing silence was observed, which was also joined by visitors in the galleries.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq of the PML-N even led a prayer for Mandela’s soul before the Senate was adjourned until Monday.