Govt, opp trade barbs over provincial quota system
24 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The opposition and treasury benches on Friday exchange harsh words over the provincial quota system, and all the opposition senators staged a walkout, exchanging indecent language against each other.
They walked out right after the exchange words between PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, as the former accused Sabir Baloch of being more loyal to his party in discharging his duties as the deputy chairman of the Upper House.
In a supplementary question about the provincial quota system, Rabbani got angry over the government, accusing it of usurping the rights of smaller provinces. He said that silence of the government over the issue of quota reflected its "ill intentions" – how seriously it considers provincial autonomy.
He said that the Constitution of 1973 had fixed a period of 10 years for the provincial job quota and the governments in the 1980s and 90s extended it for 40 years, which expired on August 13.
"The government had not explained its position on the issue so far... we all have become hostage to one province – Punjab," he said. Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada replied by saying that the cabinet had taken up the issue and provinces would be taken on board, as the prime minister had also desired so.
The statement of the minister angered Raza Rabbani, who said that Punjab had monopoly over other provinces, and this quota system had never been observed for the other three provinces.
Rabbani asked how the government would take the provinces on board when the matter was not even referred to the Council of Common Interests (CCI). "If it has to be sent to the CCI, why did the cabinet take up the issue?"
Opposition Leader Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan said Rabbani had raised an important issue in the light of Article 27 of the constitution, and the House was the proper forum to discuss it, as the Senate had equal representation of all provinces.
"We should care for the rights of the federating units and the issue should be referred to the privilege committee," he added.
As the deputy chairman referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Privilege, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq condemned the ruling of the chair, saying the decision had been made without hearing the viewpoint of the treasury side.
At the same time, Mushahidullah Khan questioned the partiality of the chair, saying that the opposition benches were getting more time to speak on the floor of the House.
This infuriated Rabbani and the two senators exchanged harsh words.
Later, the entire opposition staged a walkout from the House over the attitude of the treasury benches. Raja Zafarul Haq was of the view that the Senate was a serious House, and such a rumpus was against its traditions.
He said that the cabinet had approved an extension in the time period of provincial quota system, and an act of the parliament would be introduced soon. The House was adjourned until 4pm, Monday.
Later, Rabbani and Mushahidullah apologised to each other as well as to the House at the end of the opposition's walkout.
The Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 and a report of the Senate Special Committee on Mass Transit System for Islamabad were also presented in the House.