ISLAMABAD: The opposition in Senate continued its protest on Thursday over non-presentation of the national security policy in the house and opposed a reported government plan of including the army in the ongoing talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

“There are talks about inclusion of the army in the talks (with the Taliban). It will not be appropriate for the civil government. And if such a step is taken, its consequences will be grave and dangerous,” parliamentary leader of the main opposition PPP Raza Rabbani said while speaking on a point of order.

Mr Rabbani accused the government of considering taking the step at the behest of those who have been destroying the country’s institutions, including the army, ISI, the media and judiciary. “The government is abdicating its space,” he cautioned.

Registering his protest over non-presentation of the national security policy in the Senate, Mr Rabbani urged the chairman to take action against the ministers concerned, including Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, for the disrespect shown to the directives from the chair.

Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party also opposed the idea of including the army in the peace talks. “The members of the worthless committee are demanding that military men should sit beside them,” he said in apparent reference to the demand of retired Maj Amir, one of the members of the government committee, for the inclusion of the army in the talks.

The house witnessed a brief exchange of arguments between Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq and senators belonging to the ANP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

When MQM’s Babar Ghouri said talks could not be held with terrorists involved in the killings of innocent people, Mr Haq responded that the government had initiated talks process in line with the decisions of the three `all-party conferences’ in which all parties, including the MQM, were present. The declaration of the APCs, he added, carried signatures of the MQM’s representatives.

However, ANP’s Haji Adeel and Mr Ghouri said that their parties had allowed the government to hold talks with only those who recognised the country’s constitution and parliament.

Zahid Khan said they had permitted the government to hold talks but not at the cost of people’s lives.

Meanwhile, the leader of the house assured Senate Chairman Nayyar Bokhari that the national security policy would be presented in the house before prorogation of the present session.

Earlier, the government moved three bills — the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2014; the Federal Court (Repeal) Bill, 2014; and the National Judicial (Policy-Making) Committee (Amendment) Bill, 2014. The bills had already been passed by the National Assembly and the chairman referred them to the standing committees concerned.

CIRCULAR DEBT: During the question hour, federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch informed the house that the circular debt of power sector had risen to Rs246 billion.

Replying to questions on behalf of the water and power minister, he said short remittance by power distribution companies, line losses and short release of subsidy were major causes of re-emergence of circular debt.

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