ISLAMABAD, April 19: Anti-Musharraf speeches continued to dominate the Senate’s proceedings for the second day on Friday.
Senators from across the political spectrum reiterated their Jan 23, 2012, resolution, demanding arrest and trial of the former military ruler under Article 6 of the constitution. The house also passed a second resolution, asking the government to remove all portraits of Gen Musharraf from government buildings as the former president of the country.
Senators belonging to the PPP and the PML-N sounded venomous in their speeches whereas those belonging to the PML-Q and MQM, the parties which remained closely associated with the general during his days in power, only offered silent support to the resolutions.
The proceedings of the house started with a token walkout by senators in protest against absence of Interior Minister Malik Habib, who was summoned by the Senate chairman for briefing on the government’s response to the court order about Gen Musharraf.
The house resumed its proceedings after a 15-minute break and members unanimously decided to move a couple of resolutions after relaxing the rules of procedure. Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP proposed and Senator Ishaq Dar of PML-N moved the resolutions, which were unanimously adopted by the house.
Speaking on the occasion, Senator Raza Rabbani described the passing of the resolutions a historic moment in the democratic struggle against the military dictatorship. Although such resolutions are non-binding, as they only express the sense of the house, Senator Rabbani suggested to the chairman Nayyar Bokhari to put them outside the house in the form of a plaque. He said that allowing Gen Musharraf to go home after the court order and then declaring his house a sub-jail amounted to making a mockery of the legal system.
The PML-N’s Senator Mushahiddullah Khan referred to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s incarceration in the Attock fort and asked the government to treat the former military general like any other criminal and put him in jail.
“If caretakers keep on providing him special treatment, tomorrow they will be held responsible,” the PML-N senator warned, pointing to members of the caretaker federal cabinet present in the house.
Senator Farhatullah Babar was even harsh in his remarks.
He said: “Today the entire world has carried news of our former army chief, a trained commando, running away from arrest. Nothing can be more shameful act this for a man who had repeatedly boasted of his bravery.” Senator Zahid Hussain of the ANP said the government should put the former military ruler behind bars like politicians and let him suffer in jail in the “company of snakes”.
The PML-N’s Zafar Ali Shah said the former army chief might leave the country from the helipad, leaving a permanent mark on the country’s legal system. Therefore, he said, quarters concerned should be extra-careful in handling the entire issue.
Interior Minister Habib said police had taken Gen Musharraf into custody and the law would take its course.
He failed to satisfy members of the house who wanted the reply to a question as to on whose specific orders, Gen Musharraf couldn’t be arrested despite the court’s clear order on Thursday.
As the Senate chairman prorogued the session, 33 members of the house submitted a requisition for another sitting to discuss the trial of the former general.
Mr Raza Rabbani told Dawn that “we, the senators from the ANP, PPP and PML-N, have decided to convene another session of the house”. Under the rules, he said, once a requisition was submitted, the chairman was bound to call a meeting within 14 days.
LOADSHEDDING: Replying to questions of senators about loadshedding, the Minister for Water and Power, Dr Musadiq Malik, said the entire system was in jeopardy because of years of mismanagement.
The minister said that because of circular debt, the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had gone bankrupt and the government had defaulted on payments to Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Above all, he said, to tell you the truth no effort was being made to deal with the menace of circular debt.
About the load-shedding schedule, the minister said it was being rationalised in line with the output. The power minister was so harsh in his criticism of previous governments’ handling of the power sector, that senators got perturbed.
Senator Ihsaq Dar of PML-N in response said: “We know who is responsible for this mismanagement. You only tell us what measures the caretaker government is taking to improve provision of electricity.”
The minister said the power situation in the country was adversely impacted because of inefficiencies, element of corruption, mismanagement which encompassed the entire energy chain.
He said that hydroelectricity generation peaked to around 6000MW only for a few days and fluctuated between 800 and 6000MW during the year. The minister said that hydroelectricity generation was further restrained by the fact that it was not governed by the storage capacity as perceived generally, but by the flow of water in the rivers which was controlled by Irsa on the advice of provinces. The minister said a widely-held belief that the total power generation capacity was over 20,000MW was nothing but a myth.
“This power generation assumption is bogus,” the minister said.