ISLAMABAD: The Senate committee tasked to review the implementation of the devolution plan envisaged in the 18th Amendment was notified a month ago but has not yet held even a single meeting.
Leader of the House in the Senate Jehangir Badr apparently has no time to summon a session of the committee that was constituted after strong agitation by the treasury and opposition legislators in Senate in May and June this year.
A motion was moved in the House by Mian Raza Rabbani on May 10 for the formation of the panel amid fears that devolution of certain lucrative ministrieswould be reversed. This correspondent tried at least thrice to call Senator Badr but he did not attend the call. Even text messages on his cell number to get his version on the matter failed. Similarly, PML-N Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, who is Leader of Opposition in the Senate, also was not available on his mobile for comments. Dar has three private secretaries: one in Islamabad and two in Lahore, who also could not help in connecting to the senator.
To register their protest more effectively, PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, ANP’s Haji Muhammad Adeel, Afrasiab Khattak, Muhammad Zahid Khan and senators belonging to PPP’s other allies and all the opposition senators, including Muhammad Ishaq Dar, had staged a walk-out from the House in June. The issue was raised in the last session as well. Senator Badr had assured the House that he would call the committee’s meeting before the month of fasting, but he could not do so due to reasons best known to him.
ANP’s Zahid Khan, who had first raised the issue of devolution of ministries being impeded by the Centre, when contacted for his comments, told The News that it was unfortunate that on the one hand the government talked of supremacy of the parliament while on the other, it was deliberately flouting the landmark 18th Amendment (legislation).
Zahid Khan pointed out that in addition to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower and the Health Ministry, some other ministries were also being retained by the Centre in total negation of the consensus legislation, which he described as a flagrant violation of parliamentary supremacy. Senator Zahid regretted that the House has constituted a committee to look into the extremely sensitive issue but not a single meeting had been convened so far, which was reflective of the non-seriousness and selective approach of the authorities concerned. The ANP legislator cautioned that only parliament had the mandate to amend or even revoke any piece of legislation: no other institution or individual could do so under any circumstances.