ISLAMABAD: Though guns have largely fallen silent in Karachi, new fireworks over the affairs of the country’s commercial capital are likely to mark the sessions of the two houses of parliament beginning on Monday.
Ferocious sprees of violence in Karachi in late July and early August had dominated the proceedings of an opposition-requisitioned session of the National Assembly and a regular session of the Senate last month, but some latest outbursts from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain will be an added fuel for expected wordy duels between political rivals.
While a special all-party committee of the National Assembly tasked to look into the causes of Karachi’s troubles is yet to begin its probe, the new sessions of the two houses are also likely to focus on an ongoing operation by the port city’s police and paramilitary Rangers to hunt for alleged criminals and illegal weapons.
A strong reaction of some political parties already seen outside parliament against MQM leader’s charges levelled during a marathon news conference in London on Friday is sure to be voiced also in the two houses.
The proceedings could show that Mr Hussain’s three-and-a-half-hour spectacle, shown live in Pakistan by all main private television channels, hardly won any political friends when he targeted other parties while apparently seeking to revive his Karachi-based party’s alliance with the military of Zia and Musharraf eras by placing MQM workers at the beck and call of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence against perceived anti-Pakistan conspiracies.
And the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has long waited for the MQM to return to the government fold it quit early this year, is hardly expected to come to its rescue in parliament from likely lashings from the opposition parties like the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Jamaat-i-Islami, and the government-allied Awami National Party for different allegations made by the MQM chief against each of them.
Parliamentary groups of most parties are due to hold separate meetings on Monday before the start of the two sessions (Senate at 4pm and the National Assembly at 5pm) to chart out their lines of action.
In the National Assembly, which is due to remain in session for the remainder of September, the conduct of the leader of opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, will be keenly watched after his recent threats to resign as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee over what he alleges as indications of hurdles to be created in the working of the key parliamentary body when it is about to begin the scrutiny of accounts of the present government.
The lower house’s official agenda for the opening day includes a government bill seeking the establishment of a Private Power and Infrastructure Board and an opposition call-attention notice against a proposal by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority to increase electricity tariff by more than Rs2 per unit.
The Senate, which is likely to sit for two weeks, will begin its session with a private members’ bill from a heavy agenda including intended introduction of seven private bills by senators of both opposition and government-allied parties, consideration of one private bill and several resolutions and motions.
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