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ISLAMABAD: Senate Chair­man Sadiq Sanjrani has convened a session of the upper house of parliament on Tuesday (Nov 6) on a requisition submitted by the joint opposition.

Although the proposed agenda of the session includes terms of foreign loans obtained or being obtained, Pakistan’s possible intervention in the Middle East conflict and increase in gas prices, it is believed that the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case by the Supreme Court and events following the decision, including an agreement between the protesters and the government, are set to overtake the original agenda.

A statement issued on Saturday by Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is an indication that the sit-ins staged by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan will come up for discussion in the house.

Foreign loans, possible intervention in the Middle East conflict, gas price hike and Aasia Bibi’s acquittal may be discussed

“It is unfortunate that the state of Pakistan is captive to warlords and the Constitution and laws are moulded to their convenience. The Quaid must be turning in his grave to see judges of the superior judiciary being intimidated for acting in accordance with law and the state failing to act against the intimidators, or when the military is called to revolt and rebel-rousers are appeased,” Mr Rabbani said in a statement.

He warned that the consequences of such state abdication of its writ were far and wide. “In the immediate, no judge of anti-terrorism court or other special courts will, in these circumstances, dare to give a judgement against the terrorists,” he noted.

The senator said the recent events had, once again, reinforced the fact that, the applicability of law in Pakistan was selective. “But what is really frightening is that the state is not willing to defend its own institutions, this inspires no confidence in the common man,” he said.

The requisition submitted by the joint opposition on October 29 to summon the session has been signed by 45 senators.

“Given the questions that have arisen from multiple sources on the state of the country’s public finances, and the record of irresponsible unilateralism on raising foreign debt, it is incumbent that the parliament be taken into confidence on all such matters forthwith,” the requisition said.

Moved by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman, the proposed agenda for the session also includes Pakistan’s possible intervention in the Middle East conflict, especially the purported brokering of peace in the Yemen war, as suggested by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently.

The requisition says the issue requires public transparency immediately and terms must be shared with parliament.

It also seeks to discuss the question of rising gas and electricity prices in quick succession which, it said, has resulted in an unprecedented economic burden on people, especially the vulnerable sections of the population which are facing an upcoming winter with little prospective sources of fuel, heating or cooking.

“All of the above issues are of an urgent nature, of undisputed public importance and must give cause for the House of the Federation to meet in order to play its role as a diligent opposition,” the requisition reads.

Ms Rehman has already submitted adjournment motions with the Senate secretariat to discuss all the three issues.

In a statement issued after submitting the adjournment motions, she also called for parliamentary oversight of deals being made for obtaining foreign loans. She said parliament had the right to know how much loans were being obtained and on what terms. She said the episode of unilateral decisions on foreign loans should be brought to a close now.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018