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Senate panel cancels meeting over minister’s absence

Updated December 18, 2018

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Displeased, the committee decides to take up matter with Senate chairman if problem occurs again. — File
Displeased, the committee decides to take up matter with Senate chairman if problem occurs again. — File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources on Monday cancelled its meeting in protest over the absence of the top hierarchy of the water sector, including federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda.

The meeting presided over by Chairman Senator Shamim Afridi took serious exception to the absence of the minister, secretary of water resources ministry Shumail Khwaja and chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Syed Muzammil Hussain.

The “committee expressed dissatisfaction over this behaviour,” it said in a statement, adding that the issue of water was on a high priority these days on all forums yet was being neglected by the government as evident from “this non-serious attitude towards parliamentary committee sitting to discuss the matter”.

The committee decided to schedule the meeting again on Dec 20 and decided to take up the matter with the Senate chairman if the problem was encountered again.

The meeting was attended by Senators Gianchand, Mir Yousaf Badini, Quratul Ain Marri and Sana Jamali.

Displeased, the committee decides to take up matter with Senate chairman if problem occurs again

Senator Badini said it was clear that when the minister was not taking the parliamentary forum seriously, other officials and authorities could not be expected to act differently. He said the officers of the water resources ministry and Wapda did not realise the importance of Senate committees.

Senator Afridi said the minister frequently appeared in TV talk shows, but he did not attend the parliamentary committee meetings where he was required to speak.

Senator Marri said the ministry should write to parliament that the minister was not interested in the parliamentary proceedings and also explain his party’s position.

The committee was informed by a joint secretary that the water resources secretary could not attend the meeting because of some family problems while the Wapda chairman had some other engagements.

The committee refused to hear the joint secretary and a director of Wapda on agenda items saying their statements could not be recorded because these could be overruled by those not attending the meeting.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018