Wednesday August 17, 2022

Nation looks towards parliament to resolve crises: Rabbani

August 10, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Wednesday said that the nation is looking up to parliament to pay a positive role to steer the country out of the prevalent crisis, adding that no one is above the accountability process.

Earlier, legislators in the Senate accused former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of playing a key role in sending three democratically-elected prime ministers home in connivance with the military establishment and judiciary.

Nawaz was asked to explain whether his rally was against the judiciary or the military. They made it clear that no mechanism of accountability would win credibility if the generals and judges continued to be treated as holy cows and not brought under its ambit.  Treasury senators insisted that the sole aim of Panama case was to oust Nawaz, having nothing to do with accountability.     

The Leader of Opposition in the Senate, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan of PPP, rose to accuse Nawaz of playing a ‘key role’ in toppling three democratically elected prime ministers in connivance with ‘military establishment and the judiciary’.

Taking part in the discussion on ‘measures to combat corruption with focus on offshore companies’ across the board accountability and a new accountability mechanism, Aitzaz said Nawaz must bear brunt as he was the man who toppled late Benazir Bhutto’s government in 1990 with the help of powerful military, and he also played role to topple her government in 1996.

 Aitzaz continued, “And for the third time, it was again Nawaz, who brought down another democratically-elected Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani in the recent past in Memogate scandal”. The senator recalled how he had approached the Supreme Court as a petitioner, seeking Gillani’s disqualification.  

Referring to his rally from Islamabad, which will end in Lahore via GT road, Aitzaz criticised what he called his extravagansa via GT road to presumably ridicule the apex court, which had disqualified him in PanamaLeaks case. Aitzaz asked him to tell the nation what he wanted to prove through such rallies whether it was against the military or the judiciary.

He called upon Nawaz to admit what he called his blunders he had made in the past against democratically elected governments instead of pretending he did not know the reason which led to his disqualification.

Aitzaz asserted, “It’s you, who pocketed Rs9 million from ISI to topple Benazir’s government…stop shedding crocodile tears for Gillani now as it’s of no use to cry over split milk”.  

The veteran senator threw up a challenge to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to come forward with a legislation if it was serious about amendments in Articles 62 and 63. He called on Nawaz to name the people in front of whom he was helpless as he had claimed he knew who had conspired against him.

Winding up the debate, minister for law and justice Zahid Hamid regretted the remarks made by the opposition leaders and said that the government wanted to proceed on the matter by taking all the political parties on board.

He said that the government was open for a debate on Articles 62 and 63. The minister played down the apex court verdict on PanamaLeaks case and said that it was democratic right of Nawaz to approach the court of people after having been denied justice by the SC.

Responding to calls by senators, who demanded across the board accountability whether it were the generals, judges, politicians or anybody else, he said that the provinces must set their directions as Sindh province was busy in making a separate anti-graft body and hence bent upon restricting the National Accountability Bureau to go after the corrupts in the province.

The minister wondered how could across the board accountability be possible as Sindh doesn’t want NAB in the province, and here you are demanding across the board accountability. “We need to go together to change NAB law, appeal against 184 (3) and articles 62, and 63,” he added.   

Earlier, taking part in the debate, the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle called for across the board accountability of all and sundry, especially the military generals and the superior court judges, saying they never offered themselves for accountability.

The remarks against the military and the judges by the senators, who were unanimous in saying that no one was ever made accountable except politicians, forced Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani to say that the current session is being held in the spotlight of history and the nations is looking up to Parliament to pay a positive role to steer the country out of prevalent crises.

Rabbani warned that at this critical stage when there was crisis-like situation in the country, if any comprise was made on accountability of the sacred cows then the politicians will be in the dock of the history.   

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar made it cleat that no accountability mechanism would arouse any credibility unless it also brought under its ambit the judges and generals that have traditionally been treated as sacred cows.

Senator Babar maintained that a historic opportunity had presented itself before the bipartisan parliamentary committee on accountability comprising of members from both houses and treasury and opposition to call a spade a spade and make anti-corruption legislation that applied to all strata of society.

He said that the parliamentary committee had agreed on all sections of draft legislation and only the clause pertaining the definition of holder of public office remained to be sorted out. “If the bipartisan committee failed in giving the nation an across the board accountability mechanism then no one else but the Parliament will only have itself to blame,” he said and added,

“Huge difference between assets and income is not the only yardstick for measuring corruption. Huge assets are also accumulated through apparently legal mechanism like the SROs and rules and regulations framed by some entities to benefit its serving and retired employees in extra ordinary ways,” he argued.

He called for probing the legality of such SROs and rules that doled out huge compensation byway of monetary benefits or land allotment to serving and retired employees. The senator said that corruption bred in secrecy and called for right to information law to tear apart the shroud of secrecy. He said that proposed RTI should ensure that information is not withheld in the name of national security if that information related to exposing corruption and wrong doing or if it related to the life of a citizen.

Senator Abdul Qayum of PML-N regretted the criticism of the military for past adventurism, saying just like not all the politicians were corrupts, the whole military as an institution should not be blamed for the abrogation of the constitution.

MQM’s Senator Col (r) Syed Tahir Mashhadi said that the courts must stop witch hunting as selective justice was injustice and this what we witnessed in Panama leaks case. Jamaat-e-Islami’s Senator Sirajul Haq, who was one of the petitioners in Panama case, said that instead of getting rid of artciles 62 and 63, it should be applied on judges and the military generals, saying this would pave the way for eradication of the menace of corruption.  

Senator Saud Majeed of PML-N said that the politicians should get united in the best national interest of the country and to strengthen the democratic system there is a need to proceed together in removing the hurdles.

He said that if Nawaz was disqualified today and someone else might face the music tomorrow if this remained the situation. Another Senator Mushahidullah Khan of PML-N said that sole purpose of PanamaLeaks was to oust Nawaz, and it had nothing to do with accountability, adding the courts disqualified him but his home-going rally showed he was set to stage a comeback.

Lawmakers stressed on the need to do away with articles 62 and 63 fearing it might come as a double-edged sword on anyone like Nawaz, a third time PM had to go home without completing his term in office.

The lawmakers belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seemed quite excited over apex court decision in Panama case and said unless the menace of corruption was eradicated, there was no future of Pakistan. PTI’s Senator Noman Wazir Khattak said that no party leader except Imran Khan was financially clean and that the PML-N leader Nawaz faced the wrath of law for his offshore companies while Asif Zardari of PPP was known as Mr Ten percent.

The House will now resume proceedings Thursday afternoon and also discuss the political situation in the wake of Panama case judgement.