ISLAMABAD: Following a protest by senators belonging to the country’s mainstream parties, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has decided to lift a ban on holding of meetings of the house committees from November 25.

“The honourable Senate chairman has been pleased to restore the meetings of the Senate committees with effect from November 25, 2023,” says a notification issued by the Senate Secretariat on Wednesday.

In a surprise move, the Senate chairman had imposed a ban on holding of meetings of the standing committees on November 3 without assigning any specific reason, stating that there would be no committee meeting during the ongoing Senate session.

The current session, which started on November 2, is expected to continue till December 15 to meet a constitutional requirement of remaining in session for at least 110 days in a parliamentary year.

The Senate’s parliamentary year begins on March 12.

Due to the sudden ban imposed by the Senate chairman, a number of committee meetings, which had already been scheduled, had to be cancelled.

On Nov 8, senators from the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, National Party, Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) wrote a letter to the Senate chairman expressing their resentment over the move to ban the meetings of the committees.

Through the letter, the senators had termed the move “surprising and strange which is not supported by the Senate rules and the established practices”.

They were of the view that there was no bar in the Constitution or the Senate rules on holding committee meetings during the Senate session.

Quoting the rules, the senators in their joint letter had informed the Senate chairman that “as per the practice established under the rules ….. meetings are held during the Senate session, however, a meeting is scheduled at a time when Senate is not sitting (if Senate session is held in the morning, then the meeting is held in the afternoon and vice versa)”.

They had asked the Senate chairman to “reconsider” his decision, alleging that the move amounted to “undermine the rationale, mandate and usefulness of the parliamentary committees”.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023

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