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PM Nawaz now bound to attend Senate session once a week

15 April, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: After a walkout and a rumpus, the Senate on Monday carried an amendment to Rule 61 (2A) of its Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, 2012, requiring the prime minister to attend the upper house at least once a week in 'Prime Minister Zero Hour'.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was isolated over the amendment and all opposition and allied parties, including the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), became united to carry the resolution through a direct vote.

Though the PML-N members along with leader of the house in the Senate called the passage of resolution a "wrong way" to bring about an amendment to the rules, majority proved to be an authority.

Earlier, when Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), wanted to present the motion out of turn, Deputy Chairman Sabir Ali Baloch asked the mover to present it on his turn.

When the chair disallowed Mashhadi to table the motion, the MQM members walked out as a token of protest.

In the meantime, Jafar Iqbal, of the PML-N, told the house that the prime minister was tackling several crises and was unable to attend the Senate. Mian Raza Rabbani, a member of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), strongly reacted to Iqbal's statement and called for a combined walkout of opposition parties to which members of opposition benches responded positively.

Later, tabling the motion, Mashhadi said that the prime minister should attend the proceedings of the Senate at least once a week whenever the upper house is in session. He also said that the Senate should amend its Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in this regard.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said that it was totally a new thing, urging the chair to either form a special committee to discuss it or give him some time to consult all parties over the issue.

However, mover of the motion and members from opposition parties asked for a voting on the motion. As the chair allowed the demand, all senators, except for members of the PML-N, supported the resolution by standing on their seats.

PML-N members Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Jafar Iqbal and Raja Zafarul Haq took offence to the way the amendment was being carried.

After heated debate, the deputy chairman allowed the mover to present last point of the motion. Mashhadi presented the last item; followed by a ruling from the chair that the motion stood passed.

Earlier, Chairman Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari directed the government to present the national security policy bill in the upper house by today (Tuesday); otherwise; he would forward the matter to the concerned standing committee.

He said that it was difficult for him to understand as to how the government succeeded in getting the bill through in the National Assembly but failed to present it in the Senate despite assurances of the leader of the house during the last session.

On a point of order, Rabbani said that the government was not presenting the national security policy bill in the upper house. He said that the opposition would bring a privilege motion against Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan for violating the dignity of the Senate.

The Senate also passed another resolution presented by Afrasiab Khattak and Farhatullah Babar, asking the government to purge FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) of militants, provide compensation to victims' families and present a proper plan for development.

States and Frontier Regions Minister Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch said that the government was trying to establish peace through dialogue with militants. He said that if the process failed, the government would take serious action against terrorists. He said the PML-N government believed that it would succeed in bringing about peace through talks. However, he said, the PML-N would not drag the issue till 2018 to be taken up by the next government. The minister also announced that his ministry was preparing a 'Mini Marshal Plan' for FATA, which would be implemented after the restoration of peace.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), also introduced 'National Cyber Security Council Bill, 2014'.


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