Two Parallel Senate Sessions make history in Pakistan

Interior Minister Nisar Ali KhanISLAMABAD:For the first time in the history of Pakistan two parallel sessions of Senate were held on Wednesday by the ruling and opposition senators over the continued strike by the opposition against the presentation of wrong figures on terrorism by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan.

The senators of opposition PPP, ANP, PML-Q, BNP-A held a session of the Senate in front of the Parliament House in a tent. It was chaired by Senator Ahmad Hassan, who was included in the list of presiding officers for the current session. The Senate session inside the Parliament House failed to take up agenda due to lack of quorum. Addressing the session outside the Parliament House, PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani said parliament has been made a hostage. He said a single minister makes it a matter of ego, and the opposition is left with no option but to discuss the current challenges like drone attacks in the country outside the Parliament House.

Rabbani said a privilege motion will be presented in the formal Senate session against the interior minister for providing wrong figures to the House. He said that the statistics provided by the minister of defence provide justification for drone attacks in Pakistan, as according to them no civilian had been killed in the attacks in the last two years. Rabbani said the Ministry of Defence has accepted that it had provided wrong figures about killing of people in terrorist attacks.

“The government has decided to sideline the opposition in the current setup,” the senator said. Senator Rabbani contended that giving a wrong answer in parliament is equivalent to exploiting its discretion. The opposition, he said, wanted Chaudhry Nisar to retract his statement, but he made it an ego issue. Meanwhile, Farhatullah Babar said the Ministry of Defence had always provided wrong figures over the killing of people in terrorism-related incidents. He claimed that the PML-N government hadmcome to power through bogus voting and it should be removed immediately.

ANP’s Senator Zahid Khan was of the view that the PML-N government has adopted the same attitude that it had adopted during 1998-99. He claimed that the PML-N never wanted democracy to flourish in the country. PPP’s Senator Maula Bakhsh Chandio accused the interior minister of being rude with parliamentarians while replying to their queries. Whereas, Afrasiab Khattak claimed that the government had done nothing in the last five months over drone attacks. “The prime minister does not come to Senate or National Assembly to apprise the legislators about the government strategy on drone attacks or his recent visit to US,” he lamented.

Abdul Nabi Bangash of the ANP regretted a fatwa by some ulema that called TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsood a martyr, saying he was a terrorist. PML-Q’s Senator Kamil Ali Agha said the US government has claimed that Pakistan cannot register an official protest with it over Mehsud’s killing. Opposition leader in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan and others were also present on the occasion. Later, PML-N minister Abid Sher Ali arrived at the opposition session outside the Parliament House and tried to persuade the opposition members, saying he wanted to respond to their queries. However, the opposition chanted “shame, shame” slogans following which Abid Sher Ali left the venue.

The Senate had on Monday, while condemning the US drone attack that killed TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, asked the government to review its policy with the US and the so-called war on terror, saying Washington does not care about Pakistan’s interests. Senators said the US does not want peace in Pakistan and the region, as on one hand it calls Pakistan a close allay but on the other hand never allows peace talks with Taliban to start. The issue was raised on a point of order by JUI-P leader Abdul Ghafor Haidri.- Dailytimes