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Rabbani questions rationale behind National Development Council’s formation

Updated June 21, 2019

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Former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani on Thursday voiced his concern over formation of a National Development Council (NDC) through a notification. — APP/File
Former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani on Thursday voiced his concern over formation of a National Development Council (NDC) through a notification. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani on Thursday voiced his concern over formation of a National Development Council (NDC) through a notification, questioning the rationale for constituting what he described as an extra-constitutional organ having functions parallel to a constitutional institution, National Economic Council (NEC).

Read: PM Imran establishes National Development Council

“Why we are replicating by a notification what is already in the Constitution,” he remarked while taking part in the budget discussion in the Senate in what was the first reaction from the opposition to the formation of the NDC.

He wondered as to what the need was to have the chief of the army staff (COAS) on such a council. He pointed out that the finance minister was a member of the National Security Council (NSC) if the purpose was to discuss security-related allocations.

Asserting that associating the COAS with the economic policies of a political government would expose the army to criticism, he urged the government to withdraw the notification. “You cannot override Article 156 of the Constitution through a notification,” he stressed.

Criticising the budget as a ‘budget of the IMF’, he said this had now been certified by the adviser to the PM on finance in his press conference when he said that all conditions of the IMF had been met in the budget and the IMF board would approve a bailout package for Pakistan in the first week of July.

He lamented that the IMF conditions had been implemented, but parliament had not yet been taken on board over the conditions, raising questions over transparency, open governance and financial sovereignty.

He said the government was caught in the ‘Bermuda Triangle of the IMF, colonial imperialism and elitism’. He also said that the national security had been put at risk.

He referred to a recently leaked military manual on “unconventional warfare” in which the US Army states that major global financial institutions, including the IMF and the World Bank, are used as unconventional financial weapons as in leveraging the policies and cooperation of state governments.

He also referred to the remarks made by US Acting Secretary of State Ambassador Allice Wells during a recent congressional hearing disclosing that the US administration had asked the IMF to ensure real structural reforms are included in conditionality before approving a loan to Pakistan. He said she also talked about Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Senator Usman Kakar of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party said efforts were continuously being made to introduce a presidential system in Pakistan and roll back the 18th Amendment in the Constitution. He was of the view that the provinces needed to be reconstituted.

He said more than 50 per cent of the devolved subjects had not been handed over to the provinces. He called for formation of a parliamentary commission for across-the-board accountability, saying that it should cover civil and military bureaucracy and judiciary as well besides politicians.

The House passed a resolution expressing deep sense of grief over the tragic [death][2] of former president of Egypt Mohamed Morsi. Rules were suspended through a motion before the resolution jointly drafted by Leader of the House Syed Shibli Faraz and Leader of the Opposition Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq was read out by Mushtaq Ahmad of the Jamaat-i-Islami.

“The Senate of Pakistan also urges upon the government of Pakistan to take this as an opportunity and initiate the creation of a ‘League of Democratic States’ to support democratic governments against the adventures of dictators and other non-state actors”, the resolution reads.

Another highlight of the day was a speech for the third consecutive day by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Senator Attaur Rahman over alleged distortion of Islamic history by the prime minister, this time without naming the prime minister under an agreement.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2019

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