ISLAMABAD: A senator belonging to the ruling coalition wants the Senate to have its own dedicated aircraft for the use of members of parliament.
The demand for the special aircraft has been made by Senator Manzoor Ahmed of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) through a resolution, which is part of the agenda issued by the Senate Secretariat for Monday (tomorrow).
“The Senate of Pakistan recommends that the government may provide a dedicated aircraft to the Parliament of Pakistan, or an aircraft may be procured from Senate’s own budget, for the use of Senate of Pakistan, as it would save significant travel time and costs while ensuring much needed travel facilitation within the country and abroad,” reads the resolution submitted by the senator from Balochistan.
It states: “The House (is) cognisant of the fact that parliaments are held in highest esteem and decorum around the democratic world as the supreme institution of a nation. Observing that the parliament of Pakistan represents the country and its people at the international fora, and, therefore, it is imperative to accord due value, decorum and protocol to the custodians of the House of the Parliament while on official visits abroad.”
The resolution argues, “Apart from high public office holders in the federation, chief ministers’ secretariats of all four provinces also have official aircraft as well as helicopters to facilitate their travel.”
Last year, the government had got the approval of an amendment bill through the finance act under which parliamentarians were allowed to receive vouchers equivalent to the value of 25 business class open return air tickets that can be utilised by their families as well.
The bill titled “The Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) Amendment Bill, 2020” had been moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan during the National Assembly’s session on March 9 last year.
The bill had sought amendment to Section 10 of the law that regulates free travel privilege of the members of the parliament. Previously, the members were entitled to receive 25 business class open return air tickets of any Pakistani airline from the airport near their constituencies or in Islamabad in a year. In addition, vouchers of Rs300,000 for travelling by air or train by the parliamentarians as well as their family members were also provided during a year.
The vouchers equivalent to the value of 25 business class open return air tickets are in addition to the vouchers of Rs300,000.
According to “The Statement of Object and Reasons” attached to the bill, the government had introduced it on the “persistent demand by the parliamentarians to extend the utility of 25 air tickets to their family members as well”.
In the explanation given with the section, it is mentioned: “Family means the spouse and children of a member and one other person”.
The Monday’s agenda of the Senate also includes a debate on a motion seeking discussion on “the plight of thousands of employees who have been made redundant through the Supreme Court judgment declaring the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Act, 2010, ultra-vires of the Constitution.”
The issue had recently come under discussion in the National Assembly and the debate had ended in a verbal clash between two ministers and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif when the chair did not allow the opposition members to move a resolution to express solidarity with the sacked employees, terming the matter sub judice.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan had told the assembly that the government had decided to file a review petition before the apex court and the attorney general had already been given instructions in this regard.
The motion in the Senate has been submitted by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senators including Sherry Rehman, Imamuddin Shaouqeen and Taj Haider.
Another motion moved by the opposition senators seeking a discussion on the recent rise in petroleum prices is also a part of the agenda.
The upper house of the parliament is also set to pass a resolution to pay tributes to “iconic late Hurriyat Leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for his life-long struggle for justice, freedom and self-determination of Kashmiri people against the Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.”
“The House strongly condemns the suppressive act of Indian government for forcibly taken into custody the body of Syed Ali Shah Geelani from his family ahead of his funeral and causing harassment to the family; denounces the un-ceremonial burial of great leader in gross violation of the principles of human rights reflecting rage, tyranny and barbarianism of Indian occupied forces,” says the resolution.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021