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August 14, 2020

Opp in Senate comes hard on govt for weighing options about Karachi


August 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition in the Senate Thursday came hard on the government for weighing constitutional options with regard to Karachi and the recent clash in Lahore outside the NAB office on the occasion of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz’ arrival to record her statement in a case.

The PPP Parliamentary Leader Sherry Rehman urged the chair to summon Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to explain his statement regarding Saudi Arabia, which had been Pakistan’s long-time friend and extending cooperation to us. She condemned the Lahore incident and expressed solidarity with the PML-N.

The JUI-F Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri criticised the PPP and PML-N for cooperating with the government on legislation just because of feeling under pressure. He also decried how Maryam was attacked, but not even a walkout was staged to agitate this incident.

Leader of Opposition Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq rose to say that the joint opposition would stage walkout to protest the incident against Maryam and then they exited from the House, as the ruling PTI legislators termed the incident a planned drama by the PML-N to divert attention from the real issue and asked the PML-N leadership to recall their attack on the Supreme Court and the Model Town tragedy.

After exhausting the items listed on the orders of the day, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on the first day of the 302nd session, gave floor to the opposition and treasury members to speak on points of public importance. The police-PML-N clash and attack on the bullet-proof vehicle of Maryam Nawaz was referred to the House standing committee on human rights.

Former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani was on his feet to refer to the statement of Attorney General for Pakistan in the Supreme Court, which he gave Wednesday about the federation weighing various constitutional and legal options with reference to Karachi. He insisted it was a very serious matter.

“The federal government should be warned that they are playing with fire and remember when excise duty of customs was withheld from then East Pakistan and parity was introduced: the emergence of one unit; the state created MQM to counter the PPP in Sindh during Zia’s dictatorship. And then, MQM became a monster which the state couldn’t control,” Rabbani said.

He contended that if the state wanted the revival of the 1962 era in 2020, “then you are working on an agenda that can have far reaching effects on the Federation”.

Sherry Rehman questioned Foreign Minister’s recent statement on Saudi Arabia, where he threatened Riyadh that if the Saudi-led OIC failed to summon a meeting, “Pakistan would be ready to go for a session outside OIC”. She asked had there been a wilful shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy that the country or the Parliament was unaware of? Was the PTI government issuing statements with any thought or were they usual blunders?

Commenting on the deep relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the senator stated that Pakistan had always maintained a cordial and strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and frequently sought economic help from the Kingdom, which was a significant employer of expatriate Pakistani labour while it also remained a major source of remittances. “Rash statements like these will only jeopardise relationships,” she warned.

The PML-N veteran Senator Pervaiz Rashid raised the Lahore incident and narrated how the police allegedly attacked Maryam, who was inside the vehicle with bricks and used gas as well against party workers. He reminded the House that Maryam was daughter of three-time prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and vice-president of the party. He insisted the way the vehicle was damaged needed a probe and the matter be referred to the House committee on human rights.

Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem said an unfortunate incident had happened in Lahore and a new tradition was set when on the occasion of appearance of Maryam, NAB office was attacked with stones, which were inside PML-N vehicles. He added it was certainly a matter of concern that the government properties were attacked and this was not a good precedence of appearing before NAB.

Another PML-N Senator Musadik Malik asked were there two laws in the country: one party could enjoy rights like holding a sit-in for months in the Red Zone, attack the Parliament and ransack state-run TV, hang pajamas on the walls of Supreme Court building and flashing victory signs, an SP was dragged on the roads, and other party could enjoy rights, which had staged sit-in at Faizabad intersection.

“While we only stood on the road in Lahore and faced pelting of stones, lathi-charge and poisonous gas. You have power, use bullets and not bricks,” he asserted.

Shahzad Waseem said that they would never spoil the environment in the House or create bitterness. He said that the AGP’s statement should be seen in its context and not an attempt to interference in the domain of a province, and asked was it not a reality that people of Karachi had been left on their own but the federal government would not like to see them overlooked. To address Karachi’s issues, he said there had been several meetings and consultations and the chief minister also had attended some.

PPP government, he noted, had once imposed the governor’s rule in Punjab for two months. “We are not talking this way, we want solution to problems of Karachi,” he remarked.

“Maryam was summoned and it was for the first time that those, who voluntarily surrendered to police were being beaten up. It appeared some of the cops in action were members of the Tiger Force in uniform. Maryam just spoke while Nawaz Sharif is yet to return and speak,” asserted Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the PML-N and regretted that cases were filed even against members of this House.

PPP Senator A Rehman Malik said India had allocated dollars 1 billion to its agencies for sabotage acts in Sindh and Balochistan.

Earlier, key legislation, including the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020, already passed by the National Assembly as well as the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2020, as passed by the National Assembly, were referred to the committees concerned for consideration.