Body formed to probe spy cameras’ installation in Senate

Published April 9, 2021
This photo shows the alleged hidden camera the opposition said had been placed in the polling booth 
 prior to the election of the Senate chairman, deputy. — DawnNewsTV/File
This photo shows the alleged hidden camera the opposition said had been placed in the polling booth prior to the election of the Senate chairman, deputy. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday constituted a seven-member committee to investigate the incident involving installation of spy cameras inside the Senate hall and the polling booth that had been set up for elections of the chairman and the deputy chairman last month.

According to the Senate Secretariat’s notification, the committee titled “Senate Investigation Committee” is required to present its report “within one month from the date of the notification”.

The members of the committee are: Dr Sikandar Mandhro of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Rana Maqbool Ahmed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Talha Mehmood of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Sarfaraz Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party, independent Senator from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Hidayatullah Khan, federal Minister for Railways Azam Swati and executive director of the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services Mohammad Anwar.

Interestingly, the notification has no mention of spy cameras and it says “the competent authority is pleased to constitute a committee to investigate the alleged incident before the oath-taking of newly-elected senators on 12-03-21”.

The opposition parties have been demanding parliamentary investigations into the incident, terming it a serious breach of parliament and an effort to manipulate the process for the elections of the chairman and the deputy chairman.

Senate committee asked to present report within a month

The spy cameras had been detected by PPP’s Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and PML-N’s Musadik Malik soon after the oath-taking of the new senators and before start of the voting process for the election of the top Senate offices while inspecting the polling booth that had been set up in the hall.

The two senators became suspicious after finding a table lamp inside the polling booth which was also fitted with a camera.

The opposition lodged a strong protest and despite removal of the cameras, a new polling booth was set up for the purpose. Opposition senators also questioned the posting of the chief security officer at the Senate Secretariat on the contract basis merely a day before the elections.

The two opposition candidates — Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani for the office of the chairman and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F for the deputy chairman’s post got defeated despite the fact that the opposition had a majority over the treasury members in the house.

During the first sitting of the new Senate last week, PML-N’s Azam Nazeer Tarar had sought forensic probe into installation of the spy cameras.

Interestingly, the demand of the opposition members was also endorsed by Railways Minister Azam Swati, who has been included in the investigation committee by the Senate chairman.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021

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