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ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Wednesday reprimanded the government for its failure to lay before the house an ordinance despite its promulgation four days ago, and barred a minister from presenting another ordinance due to the “unexplained delay”.

Mr Rabbani, whose tenure as the chairman is due to end next month, also took notice of the government’s reluctance to implement the agreement on post-enumeration survey signed by all parliamentary leaders and directed Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq to convene a meeting in this regard in a day or two.

“Can you imagine, the rules have been framed, the ordinance has been promulgated, both the houses of parliament are in session and the government does not have the decency to lay the ordinance in terms of Article 89 of the Constitution before either of the two houses. So much for the supremacy of parliament,” Mr Rabbani said when PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar mentioned the recently promulgated ordinance seeking to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 with regards to proscription of terrorist individuals and organisations to include entities listed by the United Nations Security Council and the cabinet’s approval to the new rules to block financial assistances to banned outfits like Hafiz Saeed-linked Jamaatud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation.

Recently promulgated ordinance amends antiterrorism act to include terror entities listed by UN Security Council

President Mamnoon Hussain signed the ordinance on Fen 9 and its promulgation was made public on Feb 12. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Aftab Shaikh was speechless when the chairman sought an explanation from him, before directing the government to give a reply on the floor of the house through foreign minister or any other minister on Thursday (today).

Speaking on matters of public importance, Senator Babar said the government had taken these much-delayed actions ahead of a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force in Paris next week. The Paris meeting, he said, would consider Pakistan’s compliance status with international regulations to choke financing infrastructure of terror organisations. In addition, he said, it would also consider a motion moved by the United States and some European countries to place Pakistan on the terror financing watchlist.

Mr Babar said the government’s failure to bring the ordinance before parliament as required under the Constitution had raised some serious doubts about the intent of the move.

At this point, Mr Rabbani interfered and asked Mr Babar to desist from casting aspersions on the intentions of the government.

Earlier, the chairman barred Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry from laying an ordinance regarding changes in rules of the Capital Development Authority, which had been promulgated by the president on Jan 11.

He expressed his annoyance over the government’s failure to lay the ordinance before the Senate which remained in session from Jan 22 to Jan 26.

Mr Rabbani directed the minister “to explain, with substantive reasons, delay of every single day since January 23 within two days.” He also asked the secretariat to bring the ordinance on the agenda again on Friday.

The Senate chairman expressed his anger over the secretary of the Cabinet Secretariat when he was informed by PPP’s Seher Kamran that she had received a letter from the said official asking her to review the resolution that had been moved by her and later passed by the house urging the government to present all international treaties and MoUs before parliament.

“How dare a bureaucrat ask parliament to review its decision,” Mr Rabbani regretted before referring the matter to the house privileges committee.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018