ISLAMABAD: The outgoing senators on Wednesday called for ensuring supremacy of parliament and giving the Senate more powers, including a say in the money bill, and warned against rollback of 18th Amendment and introduction of presidential form of government in the country.

Making farewell speeches in the house, they also underlined the need for strengthening the federation by removing the sense of deprivation among smaller provinces and giving them control over their natural resources.

Mir Kabir Ahmad Shahi of the National Party said empowering the Senate would help remove grievances of the provinces.

He said the Senate must have a say in the money bill and a role in the prime minister’s vote of confidence.

He said there should be a provision in the law for a member of the Senate to be elected as prime minister.

He observed that the status of the upper house of parliament had been reduced to a debating club and regretted that the bills rejected by the Senate were bulldozed in the joint session of parliament.

He sought general amnesty for the victims of enforced disappearance and said otherwise they should be produced before a court of law.

Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal said there was a need to learn from the fall of East Pakistan, imposition of military rules and denying the smaller provinces their due rights. “I will mention Balochistan, which still remains deprived of gas though it is piped from Sui to other parts of the country and even Azad Kashmir,” he regretted.

Fresh gas discovery, he said, had been made in Kalat and elsewhere and if it was also supplied to Punjab, Sindh and other parts of Pakistan, ignoring Balochistan, then it would create hatred among the local people against this injustice.

He said that distribution of resources should be on the basis of area, as Balochistan was almost 50 per cent of total Pakistan, minus Kashmir, but it was destined to face deprivation, poverty and injustices over the years.

Senator Jamaldini said the Senate was upper house of parliament, but in reality it was just a debating club, while the lower house enjoyed all powers.

“We must learn to take responsibility for security lapses instead of blaming [intelligence] agencies of India and other countries. It is our job to ensure security and maintain law and order, not of others,” he argued.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Senator Usman Khan Kakar warned against the planning to roll back the 18th Amendment and introduction of presidential system in the country and said the strongest-ever resistance would come from the federating units.

He alleged that the saga of missing persons and discovery of mutilated bodies continued to rage even today and thousands of Pakhtun and Baloch persons were missing.

He recalled that Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah was called a traitor and dictator General Ayub Khan a patriot and said this trend was continuing even now.

The PkMAP lawmaker said that had General Ayub been held accountable, there would have been no Gen Zia, and had Gen Zia been held accountable, there would have been no Musharraf era in the country.

Senator Kakar urged political parties to shun politics of power and instead opt for politics of principles.

He noted that the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s declaration was against the civil and military establishment’s interference in politics and internal and external affairs of the country.

Referring to the use of money in the Senate elections, he recalled how at one time a businessman and his two sons had remained members of the house at the same time.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was witness to the fact that a contractor in Balochistan had spent Rs700 million to become a senator.

Senator Khushbakht Shujaat of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan also deplored the practice of sale and purchase of votes and said the political parties needed to change their style. She said it was against morality to get elected on one party’s ticket and vote for someone else.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator retired Gen Abdul Qayyum urged Prime Minister Khan to appoint good people as chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who could deliver and take care of people’s rights, as currently governance was extremely weak in the two provinces.

He also urged the prime minister to create an environment of working relationship as presently political polarisation was at its peak. “Negation of everything and even truth undermines credibility,” he said.

If anyone had committed corruption, he insisted, the courts were there to punish him; why to turn this into personal enmity.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Nauman Wazir Khattak called for ensuring implementation of recommendations of Senate standing committees and gave examples of how key issues were resolved at the committee level, but their decisions were never implemented.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2021

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