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Rabbani rejects reference against MQM senators

Updated October 14, 2016


ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Thursday dismissed a reference filed by a lawyer seeking disqualification of eight senators belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on the grounds of being “disloyal” to the country after the Aug 22 controversial speech of party chief Altaf Hussain.

“There is no collaborative evidence to suggest that the (MQM) members were in the knowledge of or consulted prior to the said statements (made by Altaf Hussain),” says Mr Rabbani in his seven-page order on a reference filed by Moulvi Iqbal Haider, who is known for filing petitions in courts on controversial matters.

Declaring most of the allegations levelled against the MQM senators in the reference as “vague and contradictory”, Mr Rabbani in his order said that the MQM members “at the first available opportunity, conclusively condemned and disassociated themselves” with the statements made by Mr Hussain on Aug 22 and thereafter.

Mr Rabbani has also declared that “no tribunal, commission or court has jurisdiction to adjudicate in the matter during the period” of 30 days within which “it is the chairman (Senate) or the (National Assembly) speaker who alone is entrusted with the constitutional role of deciding whether a question has arisen relating to the disqualification of a member of the Senate or the National Assembly”.

In his order, seen by Dawn, the chairman has declared that the MQM members had also supported a resolution moved by PML-Q’s Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel in the Senate on Sept 26 condemning Mr Hussain’s anti-Pakistan speech.

The petitioner had sought disqualification of MQM senators Tahir Mashhadi, Khushbakht Shujaat, Maulana Tanveerul Haq Thanvi, Mian Ateeq Shaikh, Dr Farogh Naseem, Mohammad Ali Saif, Nasreen Jalil and Nighat Mirza through a reference filed in the Senate Secretariat on Sept 29.

Drawing the attention of the chairman towards the “objectionable speech” of the MQM chief, the petitioner had stated that the speech “depicted disloyalty to the state and the Constitution.”

He alleged that head of the MQM-Pakistan Dr Farooq Sattar had made the statement against Altaf Hussain after his arrest “with ulterior motives only to save the MQM and its members (of parliament)”.

The petitioner was of the opinion that since the MQM parliamentarians had been nominated and given the party tickets by Mr Hussain, who had committed treason, therefore, “they are also required to be prosecuted” under the Anti-Terrorism Act, Protection of Pakistan Act, and Pakistan Security Act.

Moreover, Mr Haider in his reference had stated that the MQM members had taken the oath of the party at the time of their entrance in the party as well as at the time of their nomination as party candidates for Senate.

Responding to the points raised by Mr Haider, the Senate chairman in his detailed order has said that, as per record available with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the MQM-Pakistan is registered in the name of Dr Farooq Sattar.

“Therefore, a reasonable presumption follows that the party tickets awarded to the MQM members have been signed by him (Dr Sattar) or any other person authorised or acting through or under him, in this behalf.”

The Senate chairman termed the oath-taking of the MQM members at the time of their nomination as “an internal matter of the party”.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2016