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ISLAMABAD, May 2: Members of the former opposition and treasury benches exchanged barbs in the Senate on Thursday over the law and order situation in Karachi, with particular reference to recent terrorist attacks on election offices and rallies in the city.

Senators belonging to the PPP, MQM and ANP accused the PML-N of being indifferent to the attacks being carried out by Taliban in Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

In reply the PML-N members held the former coalition partners, who were in governments in all the three provinces, responsible for bringing the country to this stage by not taking steps to curb terrorism despite having “absolute power and support of the military”.

The only issue on which the PPP and PML-N showed unanimity was the trial of former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf as the senators from both parties criticised the caretaker government for expressing its inability before the Supreme Court to hold the trial on the pretext that it did not have the mandate.

The proceedings were marred by several interruptions in speeches and verbal clashes. The members even passed some abusive remarks against each other.

The PPP, ANP and MQM senators in their speeches recalled the Tuesday address of army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the ‘Youm-i-Shuhada’ ceremony, saying there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the ongoing ‘war on terror’ was Pakistan’s own war.

The atmosphere became tense when, speaking on a point of order, Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch started criticising former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif for targeting President Asif Zardari during election rallies.

Interestingly, Chairman Nayyar Bokhari did not expunge any part of Mr Baloch’s speech, who went on to term Mr Sharif an “insane person and paranoid”.

Terming the speeches against the president an insult to the whole parliament, Mr Baloch asked the chief election commissioner and the chief justice to stop Mr Sharif from his “badmouthing” against him.

These remarks infuriated Syed Zafar Ali Shah and Mushahidullah Khan, the only two PML-N members present in the house, and both of them stood up and asked the chair to expunge the remarks.

Later, taking part in the debate on the law and order situation, MQM’s Tahir Mashhadi said 28 workers of the party had been killed in the past two weeks in bomb blasts in Karachi and other parts of Sindh. He said on one hand the three liberal and democratic parties were not being allowed to carry out poll campaign and on the other “the guarantors of Taliban” had been holding huge public meetings under the “protection of militant groups”.

The ANP’s Haji Adeel alleged that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had allowed a number of banned groups’ members to participate in the elections. He said that despite having political differences with the PPP and MQM, his party had joined hands with them so that they could fight their common enemy together. He said his party was expecting that the PTI, PML-N and JUI-F would stand by them against terrorism and raise voice against the Taliban, but it did not happen.

PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said ideological battle lines had clearly been drawn in the country for the first time before the elections. Terming the Taliban “Nazis of Pakistan”, the PPP senator called for a united stance against terrorism.