Tuesday July 23, 2024

Senate slams CDA bid to demolish Shibli’s house

CDA officials along with a bulldozer on Monday reached residence of Leader of Opposition in Senate

By Mumtaz Alvi
June 11, 2024
Leader of Opposition in Senate Shibli Faraz is addressing the Senate session on May 24, 2024. —Screengrab/YouTube/Senate of Pakistan
Leader of Opposition in Senate Shibli Faraz is addressing the Senate session on May 24, 2024. —Screengrab/YouTube/Senate of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Legislators from across the aisle in the Senate Monday strongly condemned the bid by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) bid to partially demolish the house of Leader of Opposition Shibli Faraz and sought a thorough probe into it. It was a private members day, as PTI Senator Saifullah Abro on a point of public importance, rose to inform the House that the CDA officials along with a bulldozer on Monday morning reached the residence of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate apparently to demolish some parts it.

He claimed that the officials harassed members of the Faraz’s family at the residence located in the federal capital. He remarked that if the house of opposition leader was not safe, then what kind of protection was available for a common man.

The privilege of the opposition leader, he contended, had been breached by the officials. He also claimed that the action was taken after the opposition leader spoke in the House against the treasury benches. Abro urged the chair to refer the matter to the House Privilege Committee for an investigation where all officials concerned should be summoned.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that the report should be presented before the House to explain if there was some anti-encroachment operation and what was the purpose of it. She wondered how the CDA came to the residence along with bulldozers where the opposition leader had been living there for the last 15 years.

“The privilege of the House has been breached and it requires clarification over the issue. This issue is important from all the members. We strongly condemn it,” she remarked.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that news was painful and assured the House that a report from the secretary interior and Islamabad chief commissioner about the incident would be sought and present before the House on Tuesday (today). He said that action would be taken if the officials overstepped the law.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shibli Faraz said that such incidents would not shake their courage as his party was passing through tough times. He assured the House that he had done no illegality and hoped that report would endorse his stance.

He also raised the issue of incarceration of PTI Senator Ijaz Chaudhry and said they had applied for issuance of his production order to attend the session for the previous session and did so for the present session but so far the needful was not done. He recalled that during the PTI government, production orders for Senator Kamran Michael, Shehbaz Sharif, Khawaja Saad Rafique and other were issued.

Meanwhile, the House managed to put in place standing committees within the stipulated period of 60 days. Sherry Rehman moved a motion to this effect, which was adopted unanimously.

Accordingly, notifications of 42 standing and functional committees were issued for the formation of the house committees. Under Rule 174 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012, the standing committees are to be constituted within two months after election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

The motion authorises the chairman to make changes in the composition of the committees.

Taking the floor, the opposition leader said that the process of constitution of the committees of the House should be completed at the earliest in a principled and transparent way, based on the expertise of the members.

Tarar said they will extend full cooperation in this regard, suggesting immediate elections for the chairmen of the standing committees on finance and planning and development.

In response to a motion moved by Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur of the PTI, the law minister said that despite limited resources, the federal government was taking steps to cope with the challenge of climate change.

He explained a pilot project of $57 million (Rs5.846 billion) under ‘Recharge Pakistan’ was being initiated to utilise the floodwater. He added climate resilient seeds were also being introduced to save the agriculture sector from the impacts of climate change, as the mover of the motion raised alarmed bells about laxity being shown to deal with the challenge of climate challenge.

As many as nine new private member bills were also introduced in the House -- the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2024 (Amendment of Section 377 of PPC), the Islamabad Nature Conservation and Wildlife Management Bill 2024, the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants (Amendment) Bill 2024, the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants (Amendment) Bill 2024, the ICT Rights of Persons with Disability (Amendment) Bill 2024, the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2024] (Insertion of sections 344B, 344C, 344D and 344E in CrPC, the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (Amendment) Bill 2024, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (Amendment of Articles 1,51,59,106,154,175A,198 and 218 of the Constitution), the Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) Bill 2024, and the Islamabad Capital Territory Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill 2024.

The proposed pieces of legislation were moved in the House by senators Samina Mumtaz Zehri, Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan, Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur, Fawzia Arshad and Aon Abbas. Senate Chairman Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani referred the bills to the standing committees concerned for detail deliberations and reports. On the draft constitutional amendment bill of PTI’s Aon Abbas, the chairman said that the Senate had passed the constitutional bill seeking to create South Punjab province with a two-thirds majority and referred it to the National Assembly.

However, he pointed out, their party had no majority in the National Assembly and it could not be passed in 2012.

The law minister alleged that the issue was being politicised today, as despite remaining in governments in Punjab and the Centre for three and half year, the PTI failed to do anything in this regard and now was making point scoring on this issue.

The lack of quorum hit the House, forcing Deputy Chairman Syedaal Khan to adjourn the House till Tuesday (today) afternoon.