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Always upheld the supremacy of parliament, Rabbani says in his farewell address

Updated March 09, 2018

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Raza Rabbani assures PPP Chairman Bilawal that he will continue to play an active role in party politics. —photo provided by author
Raza Rabbani assures PPP Chairman Bilawal that he will continue to play an active role in party politics. —photo provided by author

Outgoing Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Friday in his farewell address to the Upper House, said that he had always tried to uphold the supremacy of the parliament.

"I am thankful to them and I beg pardon also, because I understand that there were instances when, as I sat here, I spoke with severity. It was not because the Senate chairmanship was clouding my mind ─ I am a darvesh man, I have tried to kill my ego ─ it was because it appeared to be the best way for this House to function," he explained.

He credited his success as a political worker to two women: his mother and his "political mother", the slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.

Also read: Judiciary, parliament should avoid 'entering into controversy', advises Rabbani

Rabbani said he always strives to abide by "Bhutto's legacy" of never compromising on principles. As speaker of the Senate, he hoped that his name would be written among those who always upheld the supremacy of the parliament.

Rabbani thanked the 103 senators "without whose cooperation and affection it would not have been possible for this House to function".

The outgoing Senate chairman said there was an immediate need for "intra-institutional dialogue" to bury the insinuations of "clash between different state institutions".

Rabbani stressed that for the country to function smoothly, each institution must work within its constitutional ambit. "Army is an institution as well and it comes under the executive," Rabbani stressed.

"We need to introspect and see if we have committed a mistake," he insisted and criticised the politicians for leaving a "space" in the parliament.

Referring to ongoing criticism over Senate elections and the allegations of horse-trading, Rabbani recalled that the Senate had passed a report regarding election reforms and forwarded it to the parliamentary committee. "However, the committee rejected the reforms."

Rabbani said the Senate had recommended that names of lawmakers must be written on ballot paper in order to end secrecy of the ballot so that polling can be transparent. "Yet every party rejected those suggestions," he maintained.

He was of the view that in order to maintain the supremacy of the parliament, Article 89 of the Constitution (power of the president to promulgate Ordinances) must be "deleted".

Talking to reporters after his farewell speech, Rabbani avoided questions regarding his return to Senate following PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari's earlier refusal to support the former as prospective chairman.

Zardari had also accused Rabbani of failing to resist "anti-democratic" moves by former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Bilawal meets Rabbani

Later in the evening, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met Rabbani and praised the veteran politician for his services for the party.

The meeting took place in the backdrop of recent political developments revolving around the Senate elections.

Rabbani assured the PPP chairman that he will continue to play an active political role in whatever position the party leadership assigns him.

Earlier on Thursday, while giving his farewell speech, PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan has said that "those attacking the higher judiciary of the country in speeches and rallies" were creating the space for a dictator to overthrow the democratic setup.

In what he himself had described as a "heartfelt speech", Ahsan said on the floor of the Senate that the judiciary seemed to be dealing with its critics with too soft a hand.

Before Ahsan, it was PPP's outgoing Senator Farhatullah Babar who warned against the "judicialisation of politics and politicisation of the judiciary" and the existence of a "state within state".

Babar had said he was distressed that all political parties, including the PPP, initially demanded across-the-board accountability — a suggestion for bringing judges and generals under the purview of accountability laws — but suddenly backtracked on it.

The Senator's criticism of his party in the speech had angered Zardari, and subsequently Babar was removed from the post of party spokesman.