MPs losing interest in joint session

18 Oct 2008


ISLAMABAD, Oct 17: The in-camera joint session of the two houses of parliament appeared to be running out of steam as only about 60 of the 440 lawmakers were in the house at one stage during the debate on the war on terror policy.

Awami National Party’s Pervaiz Khan accused Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman of having assumed the role of a Taliban representative.The lawmaker from Swabi said the JUI-F chief was adding to the problem by supporting Taliban who had created a serious law and order situation in the tribal region and the NWFP.

National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, who presided over the sitting, regretted the lawmakers’ lack of interest in the discussion on the most important issue of national security. She said only a small number of members had turned up over the past three days.

She asked the parliamentary leaders of all the parties to ensure maximum attendance to make the exercise meaningful.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza had on Thursday night asked the Pakistan People’s Party chief whip and other leaders to persuade the party’s legislators to attend Friday’s proceedings.

Sources said that Ishaq Dar of the Pakistan Muslim League-N exchanged harsh words with Information Minister Sherry Rahman when she challenged his statement that “in Islam evidence of two women is equal to that of one man.”

Mr Dar said two witnesses of the negotiations between the PPP and the PML-N, the prime minister and Maulana Fazl, were present, otherwise he would have needed four women ‘as required under Islamic teachings’.

Ms Rahman criticised him for ‘belittling the role of women’.

Former leader of the house in the Senate, Wasim Sajjad, said no positive change had taken place since the election. He said the new government had failed to curb terrorism.

Amir Muqam of the PML-Q said the government had failed to overcome the multifarious crises being faced by the country.

He said US air strikes had taken place in the past, but they were not so destructive and rampant. Such attacks, he added, were the real cause of concern for the people.

He said people in the NWFP, especially in Swat and in his native Shangla, were facing severe shortages of food and electricity.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Kamil Ali Agha, told Dawn that the members had lost interest because they did not expect any change in policy.

The session on Friday continued for three hours and was adjourned till Monday.

Khwaja Asif of the PML-N, Jehangir Tareen of the PML-F and Iqbal Mohammad Ali of the MQM also spoke.