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November 17, 2018

Sanjrani’s conduct not discussed in cabinet, Senate told

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November 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Many were astonished to hear from Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan in the Senate on Friday denying the ‘conduct’ of Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani was discussed during the cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The denial came from the minister after Raza Rabbani slammed the government for casting aspersions on the ruling of Sanjrani, barring Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry from attending the House proceedings if he did not apologise in the House for his ‘remarks’ against senior opposition leaders.

Rabbani took a serious exception to the remarks made by Fawad against Sanjrani and noted that it was said that “the government would have to see the matter”, which meant “elimination” and this could not be taken lightly.

“The minister plainly said that the prime minister and his cabinet had stated that any insult of the ministers was not acceptable. And saying he (the minister) would see the chairman, means ‘elimination’…it’s something which we can’t let go. I am sure the PM must not have said it all,” Rabbani believed.

“But today, aspersions are being cast on chairman Senate…is this the right way? Is this the way forward to boost the teething democracy? Again I would say I’m not ready to believe that the prime minister and his cabinet have cast such aspersion as they cannot make fun of the Constitution,” he said.

It was also said that the Senate chairman was not elected, Rabbani said, and added that who could say that this House was not elected and pointed out that the mode of election was provided in the Constitution. Raza Rabbani said that in the past, not even a dictator had the courage to speak against the speaker of the National Assembly or chairman Senate.

“We may be inexperienced but we are not a broken kite, so trust me that the institution of parliament will be more stronger and powerful as long as we are here and no one can harm it, as my leader Imran Khan has a mission, which is to give respect and strengthen the state institutions,” Ali Muhammad said in response to Raza Rabbani’s observations.

He contradicted the claims made by the information minister that the prime minister and the cabinet regretted the Senate’s chairman’s decision to ban him from attending the Upper House session, saying the issue was not discussed by the prime minister and the cabinet. He said the prime minister has made it clear that he will never spare corrupt ministers even if it costs him the government.

Referring to the war of words between the information minister and some members of the lower and upper houses of parliament this week, Rabbani said the powers, which did not want to see the parliament function smoothly, have succeeded in creating cracks within the building of the top legislative body.

Citing Clause 6 of Article 90 of the Constitution, he said that the cabinet together with ministers of state shall be collectively answerable to the Senate and the National Assembly. Recalling the information minister’s presser that the Senate and its chairman were indirectly elected, Raza Rabbani said that the procedure of the Senate elections was defined in the Constitution and this House was elected through the federating units of the country.

“If so, through the same yardstick, I will challenge that the House next door (National Assembly) how is the president of Pakistan directly elected…he’s also indirectly elected by the parliament and the provincial assemblies,” he contended.

Rabbani said the prime minister was elected directly as a member of the National Assembly, but he was elected to the office of the prime minister through the indirect votes of the National Assembly members. “But, let me make it crystal clear that the parliament has a history of facing the powers which wanted to weaken the parliament, and we are ready to take them on in future to protect the dignity and prestige of parliament,” he maintained.

He warned that if the building of the parliament was collapsed by the forces of ‘popular fascism’, very few of the members sitting inside the House will come out alive from the debris if, God forbid, the parliament crumbles down to the ground.

Rabbani emphasised the need for an across-the-board accountability including judges, civil and military bureaucracy through a federal commission for accountability. “Are politicians the only corrupt people in society? One-sided accountability will not work in Pakistan. Politicians are not the only ones who are corrupt, unfortunately, everyone in society including myself is corrupt. If there is to be accountability, let there be across-the-board accountability. Let the judiciary be accountable, let the civil and military bureaucracy be accountable. But for this we are not ready,” Rabbani stressed.

Terming the killing of senior police officer of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa SP Tahir Dawar in Afghanistan an attack on the state of Pakistan, Ali Muhammad said it must not be politicised. Responding to a point raised by the ANP Senator Sitara Ayaz, the minister said the inquiry was yet to be completed as the law enforcing agencies were investigating the matter.

“It was a big tragedy. It was an attack on the state of Pakistan, which must not be politicised. The interior minister will take the House into confidence once it’s completed as we’re probing the matter,” he maintained.

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