ISLAMABAD: A federal minister on Monday forcefully defended parliament as an important pillar of state, but in the same breath assailed another pillar of state by directly accusing the judiciary of handing down a ‘controversial verdict’ to disqualify Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in collusion with the military establishment.

Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan hurled the accusation when lawmakers were speaking in the Senate against two members of the National Assembly for cursing parliament, without naming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and his ally Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.

“The [Supreme Court] judgement has not been accepted by the people,” Mushahidullah Khan said.

Before the senators were allowed to speak on the supremacy of parliament in general, Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani made it clear that there were rulings given by his predecessors, including Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Wasim Sajjad, besides his own three rulings that remarks could not be made in the Senate against a person who was a member of other house of parliament.

Mushahidullah Khan said the one who abused parliament disqualified himself to become a parliamentarian because he ridiculed not only parliament but also the voters who elected members of the national and provincial assemblies, which served as electoral college for the upper house of parliament.

He said there must be some red lines and action should be taken against those who crossed them. He regretted that there were no regrets after the harsh remarks and the man [Imran Khan] had the audacity to say that he used a very mild word.

Nauman Wazir of the PTI tried to defend the remarks made by his leader and said these were meant to depict the absence of Allah’s blessings on parliament.

“We want parliament to efficiently function. Where are we heading? I have not seen a weaker institution than parliament,” he said, adding that decisions taken by parliament were not implemented.

Saud Majeed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz deplored that a member of the house had the heart to defend the remarks made by his leader against parliament. “One must not go that far in adulation.”

Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan Peoples Party also criticised the duo for cursing parliament and said such steps only emboldened those who were looking for the opportunity to weaken parliament.

Zainab murder case

Chairman Raza Rabbani directed members of the Senate committees on human rights and interior to visit Kasur to find out details about the molestation and killing of six-year-old Zainab and submit a report to the house by Friday.

He also asked the government to notify the commission on rights of children and present the notification before the house by Friday.

Taking part in a discussion on the mysterious disappearance of Raza Mehmood Khan from Lahore on Dec 2, Senator Farhatullah Babar said it was intriguing that most of the bloggers and activists who had gone missing were those who were advancing alternative theories of national security and disagreed with the official narratives.

He said Raza Mehmood was known for advocating peace in the region, particularly peaceful co-existence with India, which was against the state narrative of peace and security.

The PPP senator said the five bloggers who had gone missing and later returned homes were too scared to talk about their ordeal and had sought refuge in foreign lands. They too were known for posts that went against the official narrative of what constituted national security, he said.

Mr Babar proposed that the recovered persons be encouraged to share their ordeal with the Senate human rights committee at an in-camera session. The committee should then prepare a confidential report on the basis of their testimony which might then be taken up with state agencies, he said.

He called for disbanding the present commission on enforced disappearances and replacing it with another one which should also include experts in investigation.

Mr Babar also raised the issue of the post of DG military lands and cantonment and regretted that serving army officers had been posted on this civilian post for the past almost two decades.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2018

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