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October 9, 2015

Khawaja Asif stuns all


October 9, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Finally, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif agreed to criminal investigations into the Nandipur power project scandal by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or any other entity including the Parliamentary Committee of the Upper House.
This was a big breakthrough and credit goes to the Senate Opposition that they convinced the government to buy their arguments. During this session, the Upper House’s mood towards corruption seemed totally changed on both sides of the divide as none of the senators defended corruption. It would be unfair not to credit Khawaja Asif as he did not hesitate to get the matter investigated by the NAB that also reflect his confidence in the PML-N claim of no corruption in the Nandipur project.
Aitzaz Ahsan declared this project as mother of corruption and demanded criminal investigations by the NAB while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Mohsin Aziz demanded a probe by the House Committee. Both were accommodated. Khawaja made this commitment while responding to the opposition’s various allegations of corruption and kickbacks in this project. It is worth-mentioning that the government was reluctant to engage the NAB to probe the scam, but Khawaja stunned the opposition and cleared all ambiguities. In fact, his offer made the opposition speechless and shut all doors on criticism till the probe is finalised. Some of the treasury members were also surprised over Khawaja’s offer of probe by the NAB and apprehended that the opposition can also demand investigations into alleged corruption in the Metro Buss, LNG and other projects. But they should appreciate Khawaja Asif as his step speaks volumes for the transparency of his government.
Getting emotional relief by using indecent language is now a common feature between Aitzaz Ahsan, Khawaja Asif and Mushahidullah Khan. Aitzaz’s some remarks forced the treasury to grit and their response was always most lethal. They employed Lalochezia for political point-scoring

but disturbed the House and galleries as well. The Senate chairman should take serious notice of it to maintain peace in the Upper House. The positive side of this brawl is that the impression of friendly opposition is gone and the Pakistan Peoples Party has started playing the opposition’s role more than the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. But it should be in the limits of decency.
Senator Usman Kakar well-presented the case of Balochistan’s least presentation in federal departments against the allocated quota. There was no doubt Balochistan is being ignored in the federal departments and despite commitment by the present government, the situation is the same. Documents presented in the Senate reveal representation from Punjab in embassies outnumbered that from all other provinces. Punjabis are already facing hatred in Balochistan and further injustice would worsen the situation.
Usman Kakar, Jamal Dini, Mir Basheer and other senators from Balochistan pointed out even the nominations from Balochistan were not locals and domiciles from Balochistan need to be verified. This is a serious allegation which should be probed. If non-Balochs are placed on the basis of alleged fake domiciles or unverified domiciles, it would be unjustifiable. Even on genuine domiciles, local Balochs should be preferred. Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, in his defence, said they followed the domiciles. Following the domiciles is not the solution and they should be verified and local Balochs should be given priority.
The Senate also took the controversial Ruet-e-Hilal Committee’s issue, which announced citation of moon. Farhatullah Babar informed the House that the committee was working without any legal or constitutional backing and it was formed in 1974 following a resolution in the National Assembly. Furthermore, there are no rules and regulations for this committee.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, in his ruling, urged the treasury to regular the committee through necessary legislation till November 15. If they failed to initiate the process, the Senate would do the job the very next day, he said.
The report of the Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research on the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council’s (PARC) 1,400-acre prime land which was cancelled by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was presented in the House. The CDA’s objections for cancellation of this lease were very funny as the PARC violated the terms of lease agreement by building residential houses for staff and a petrol pump and did not plant trees. This report revealed how the bureaucracy protected its interests. The CDA cancelled the land lease but ignored serious violations by 43 housing societies in Islamabad. This pointes to the double standard of the bureaucracy. The committee did the right thing and rejected the cancellation of the lease.

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