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August 28, 2018

Parliament right platform for accountability: Imran

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August 28, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Making his maiden appearance in the Senate on Monday on the first day of the new session, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the biggest platform for accountability is Parliament as he held out an assurance that due importance would be given to Parliament and economy would be put on sound footing through austerity measures, revamping of FBR and other measures.

“The austerity drive is aimed at getting people realised that their government will spend their tax money on their welfare instead of useless expenses and lavish lifestyle. We need to change colonial mindset to serve the masses in a better way,” he emphasised.

Earlier, Imran explained that steps were underway to reduce expenditure, check money laundering, generate revenue, and reform the Federal Bureau of Revenue. He said enabling environment would be created first for overseas Pakistanis to bring money to Pakistan and invest in their own country. Premier Imran assured the senators that he would attend the Senate sessions and maintained that the biggest platform for accountability is Parliament.He laid emphasis on the rulers to cut their expenses and wanted the ministers to lead by example in this regard.

A framework, he noted, would be made for investment by overseas Pakistanis and the plan would be unveiled in a week and placed in Parliament. Imran said he would go on foreign visits after putting the House in order and improving governance in the country. The prime minister said he came to the Senate to show that he believed in strengthening Parliament.

He promised that prime minister question time will be introduced in the National Assembly where he would himself give answers to questions every fortnightly. Imran Khan said he would also come to the Upper House to respond to queries of senators.

"This country is amongst the top five most charitable countries and we are also among countries that pay the least amount of tax that is because people have not trusted past governments," Imran said and noted that the austerity drive was an effort to change that.

Following the presentation of a report of the Standing Committee on Interior on holding of free, fair and transparent elections/security of general elections, 2018 by its chairman Senator Abdul Rehman Malik of PPP made a statement thereon and said that political parties would be invited to the next meeting to find out if they had concrete evidence of rigging or any irregularity.

The newly-appointed Leader of Opposition Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq was on his feet to demand formation of a parliamentary commission on the recently-held polls, which should come up with a comprehensive report and address concerns of opposition parties. Referring to the committee report, he said that 2018 elections was the most important issue at the moment and it was not possible for a committee to tackle it.

He emphasised that they would stage token walk-out from the House, if they would not be given chance to speak on the issue and give their input thereon. “Mere discussion and question-and answer are not enough. The prevailing situation with regards to polls must be addressed,” he said amid chants by some opposition senators against what they alleged the interference by the establishment in the elections in favour of a particular party. Senator Raja Zafarul Haq then led the opposition’s walk-out from the House.

They demanded that all members of the Election Commission of Pakistan should step down. Leader of the House Shibli Faraz tabled a resolution, which says, “This House recommends that the government should take necessary steps for creation of analytical database wing in all ministries in order to facilitate policy making of the respective ministry.

This led to an interesting situation was witnessed in the House when former KP chief minister and incumbent Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and some other PTI senators complained about the bureaucracy’s alleged non-cooperative conduct, triggering a sharp reaction from the opposition senators, who wondered what was the justification in their comments, when they were now in the government.

Opposition senators reminded the minister and treasury benches that they were the government and not the opposition; they should sit down and address the issues.

The chair also congratulated Senator Syed Shibli Faraz for assuming charge of the Leader of the House. He also appreciated the role of ex-leader of the opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman for raising image of the House.

The Senate offered fateha for those, who died in various incidents in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The senators also offered fateha for the departed soul of Pakistan Movement Worker Syed Ahmad Saeed Kirmani and brothers of Senators Kalsoom Parveen and Talha Mehmood.

Earlier, the House passed “The National Disaster Management (Amendment) Bill, 2017 moved by Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh of MQM-Pakistan. The bill is aimed at amending the National Disaster Management Act, 2010.