Opposition walkout over price hike disrupts Senate session

Published November 9, 2021
A file view of the Senate. — Photo via Senate of Pakistan website
A file view of the Senate. — Photo via Senate of Pakistan website

ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Monday disrupted the Senate proceedings by pointing out lack of quorum after staging a walkout in protest against the prevailing unprecedented price hike in the country, forcing Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to adjourn the sitting within minutes till Wednesday while deferring almost all agenda items on the private members’ day.

However, before the abrupt adjournment, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution paying tribute to the late Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, condemning “suppressive acts of the Indian occupation forces in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and asking India to lift the inhumane military siege in IIOJK and reverse and revoke the illegal and unilateral steps of August 5, 2019”.

The resolution, submitted by Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, was read out by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He said the government wanted to support it to send a message of unity from the upper house of parliament.

Soon after the passage of the resolution, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Moula Bux Chandio sought the floor to speak on price hike. However, the Senate chairman refused to allow him to speak, saying he wanted to take up the private members’ day agenda.

Sanjrani adjourns sitting within minutes due to lack of quorum; house passes resolution condemning India over Kashmir situation

At this, Mr Chandio said the opposition would not sit in the house and stage a walkout to register its protest over price hike and inflation in the country. All opposition members then left the house with Mr Chandio, leaving behind empty treasury benches.

In the absence of the opposition, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senator Mohsin Aziz introduced the National Highways Safety (Amendment) Bill 2021. When the chairman was about to give the floor to another ruling party senator, Ali Zafar, to move his private member’s bill, PPP’s Behramand Tangi returned to the house and pointed out lack of quorum.

The chairman adjourned the sitting after a headcount announcing that the proceedings could not be run as only 19 members were present in the house.

For maintaining the quorum, the presence of 25 members, one-fourth of the 100-member Senate, is required.

At the outset, the house witnessed a verbal clash between PTI’s Ejaz Chaudhry and PPP’s Tangi when the former, while speaking on a point of order, drew the members’ attention to the murder of a woman in the Qambar area of Sindh allegedly by the father of a PPP leader and criticised the PPP-led provincial government for the incident.

The PTI senator alleged that the woman was publicly shot dead over a land dispute even though she was carrying Holy Quran in her hands and seeking mercy from the attackers.

He said the bullet pierced through the holy book and hit the woman in her chest, resulting in her immediate death.

The chairman asked the Senate secretary to seek a report on the incident from the Sindh government.

PML-N Senator Rana Maqbool, while speaking on a point of order, criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for not attending a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security held earlier in the day.

Resolution

Through the resolution, the Senate has “expressed tributes to iconic, late Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for his lifelong struggle for justice, freedom and self-determination of Kashmiri people against the Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir”.

While “strongly condemning” the suppressive acts of Indian occupation forces of snatching the mortal remains of Mr Geelani from his family members, the Senate denounced the unceremonial burial of the great leader in gross violation of basic human rights. This reflects the tyranny and barbarianism of the Indian occupation forces, the resolution said.

The resolution once again “urged the international community to take notice of the government of India’s callous and inhumane handling of the situation violating all civil and human rights norms in the occupied valley” and called upon the government of India to stop harassment of the members of Mr Geelani’s family and drop orchestrated charges against them.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2021

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