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Walkouts galore in Senate

January 21, 2013

The senate in session – File photo by APP
The senate in session – File photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: On the opening day of its new session, the Senate on Monday saw four walkouts on different issues and unanimity on three resolutions.

At the outset, the Senators belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F and the Balochistan National Party-A staged separate walkouts to register their protest over promulgation of governor’s rule in Balochistan.

Later, Senators from Fata condemned the killing of 18 people, including women and children, allegedly during an operation by security forces in Bara.

Then came another walkout -- this time by the opposition PML-N members to express solidarity with the Senators representing minority communities who protested over satirical remarks made by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. He had compared Dr Tahirul Qadri to the Pope in a press conference during the doctor’s long march last week.

The house unanimously passed a resolution which asked the government to recommend the name of Bashir Ahmad Bilour, slain leader of ANP, for Nobel Price for Peace.

The other two resolutions called for performance-based financial audit of power distribution companies and establishment of a shelter for orphans and children of unknown parentage in Islamabad.

Governor’s rule

Speaking on a point of order, JUI-F Senator Mohammad Khan Sheerani said the entire country had been facing terrorism but governor’s rule had been imposed only on Balochistan.

The Senator, whose party had favoured an in-house change in Balochistan in the wake of an unprecedented protest by Shia Hazara community over the Jan 10’s deadly terrorist attacks, regretted that the IG of Balochistan and officials of the Frontier Corps, who were responsible for providing security to people, remained untouched.

“Governor’s rule is an insult to the people’s mandate and will bring no change in the province,” he said, declaring that his party would stage a walkout.

Later, BNP-A Senator Kulsoom Parveen claimed that former chief minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani was ready to resign but this option was not considered. Asking President Zardari to revert the decision of imposing governor’s rule, she also staged a walkout.

Threats to democracy

Speaking on a point of order and apparently referring to Dr Qadri’s long march, PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani cautioned against more efforts to derail democracy in the coming days to get the general elections postponed.

“A conspiracy has been hatched against the democratic system. A few days ago, a failed attempt had been made to murder democracy in front of Parliament House. The ‘revolution’ never came about, but I believe that it is not the last such attempt,” he added.

Mr Rabbani said the role of the ruling elite in the appointment of a caretaker set-up and the chief election commissioner had been eliminated through the 18th and 20th amendments.

He rejected Dr Qadri’s demands, terming the suggestion for a 30-day period for scrutiny of nomination papers of candidates intending to contest elections under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution as having no basis.

“For what purpose you want 30 days if your motive is not creating Lotas (turncoats),” he retorted.

He urged the Senate to send a loud and clear message that attempts to delay elections and set up a technocrats’ government for two or three years would be considered an “attack on the federation”.

Two PML-N Senators, Raja Zafarul Haq and Syed Zafar Ali Shah, drew the attention of the house towards news reports that the US Congress was about to pass a legislation allowing CIA to carry out drone attacks in Pakistan anywhere, and any time. They asked the government to come out with a clear stance on the issue.

Leader of the house Jahangir Badar assured them that he would ask Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to brief the Senate. The Senate will meet again on Tuesday.