Talks with TTP called into question in Senate

Published November 11, 2021
Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani speaks in the Senate in this file photo. — DawnNewsTV
Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani speaks in the Senate in this file photo. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Senate on Wednesday called into question the government’s belated disclosure that it was in talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) sans parliament’s sanction.

Former Senate chairman and PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani, while raising the issue in the house, noted that it was the mandate of parliament to decide on negotiations with a banned outfit. He regretted that parliament had been made irrelevant as it was merely informed about key decisions already taken keeping it in the dark.

The PPP senator was of the view that it would be better to lock parliament if it was to be treated in a way like this. He pointed out that a joint sitting was summoned and an hour back it was postponed. “All the decisions on national security are neither being taken from the platform of parliament nor is it being taken into confidence.”

PPP says it’s parliament’s mandate to decide on negotiations with a banned outfit

Mr Rabbani said parliament was not taken into confidence on a decision on giving air corridor to the United States and the information came from the US Congress that Pakistan was in talks with the US on giving air corridor, whereas a resolution was adopted at a joint sitting in 2012 on the terms of engagements that Pakistan would not give air corridor to the US.

Likewise, he said, the information about commencement of negotiations with the TTP was shared by the prime minister during his interview to a Turkish television. He added that the prime minister talked about negotiations with the TTP and after that there was a statement on ceasefire.

However, he said numerous incidents had taken place during the period involving attacks on security forces personnel and precious lives were lost during the so-called ceasefire. “Today again, it is being stated that an agreement on ceasefire has been reached, but if negotiations are to be held then parliament should be taken into confidence.”

The PPP senator said parliament would not endorse the exercise undertaken outside. “The government has no mandate for negotiations with terrorist organisations, as it is the mandate of parliament. If parliament empowers the government, only then it can hold negotiations,” he emphasised.

Earlier, Mr Rabbani raised an objection when a minister sought to lay the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, which was promulgated by the president on September 15 and laid in the National Assembly on October 21. He was of the opinion that after having been laid in the National Assembly, the ordinance automatically became a Money Bill.

Mr Rabbani referred to Article 73 (1) of the Constitution which says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in Article 70, a Money Bill shall originate in the National Assembly.”

He said that under a proviso added to the article, when a Money Bill, including the Finance Bill containing the annual budget statement, is presented in the National Assembly, a copy thereof is to simultaneously transmitted to the Senate which may, within 14 days, make recommendations to the National Assembly.

He said the Money Bill was being brought after 21 days — a week after the 14-day time elapsed. This, he said, was not only violation of the Constitution but also a breach of privilege of the entire house.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani explained that the bill had been transmitted the same day, but the Senate was not in session, adding that the time of 14 days would start from today.

PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman, however, laid emphasis on the word ‘simultaneously’ used in the Constitution and said the government should not have laid the bill in the National Assembly when the Senate was not in session.

Earlier, during the question hour, the house was informed that as many as 28,723 cases of gender change had been processed from July 2018 to June 2021.

In a written reply to a question by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said gender change certificate is not issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). However, gender is modified due to medical reasons or on submission of an application.

According to data shared with the house, 16,530 cases of gender change from male to female were processed, 12,154 cases of female to male, 21 cases of transgender to male and nine cases of male to transgender and as many cases of transgender to female.

The JI senator had sought information about the total number of applications received for issuance of gender change certificates by Nadra from July 2018 to June 2021, with original and intended gender-wise breakup of the applicants.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2021

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