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Parliamentarians failed to perform their duties: Opposition senators

11 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Opposition senators on Thursday said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was responsible for weaknesses of parliament, which according to them resulted in ouster of Nawaz Sharif.

"Parliamentarians failed to perform their duties and dictations were given in several important issues like foreign affairs. Whenever, the PML-N came to power, they always sidelined the parliament, the former PM Nawaz Sharif rarely attend the national assembly and always avoid attending the Upper House. When parliamentarians themselves gave rooms to others for encroachment, then the result would be that no elected PM will complete his/her tenure."

The opposition senators expressed these views while discussing a motion, regarding discussion over the present political situation post Panama Papers verdict and the way forward-role of the parliamentarians.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that the Senate could get its effective parliamentary role as per constitution by reviewing its own functioning in the past to pinpoint weaknesses and then suggest a way forward through addressing the same. He said political parties were taking the parliament seriously as decisions on important national issues were being taken outside it, either at all parties conferences (APCs) or through consultative meetings, hence undermining its (parliament's) role. He said courts were approached to settle political issues.

Opposition leader in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said that Nawaz had always been instrumental in removal of the PPP governments in the past, adding that the Supreme Court's verdict in the Asghar Khan case said that Nawaz rigged election.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said the PPP could not raise hue and cry over corruption during its tenures. PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi claimed that not a single case of corruption was established against Nawaz Sharif in SC. However, he accepted that parliament was never taken seriously whenever a political party came into power.

Earlier, taking part in the discussion, PPP Senators Farhatullah Babar said the Panama verdict would be remembered as a throwback to the past and for weakening parliament and Nawaz was largely to be blamed for this.

"It was Nawaz who rejected the bid to amend Articles 62 and 63. It was Nawaz Sharif who refused to agree to constitution court at the time of 18th amendment even after endorsing it in charter of democracy. It was Nawaz Sharif who sought the disqualification of PM Gilani through courts. It was Nawaz Sharif who joined hands with agencies against three PPP governments.

It was Nawaz Sharif who took part in the agencies' rigging of 1990 elections. Yet, in spite of all this I cannot welcome the SC verdict, the sensational sound bytes, heated talk shows and shrieking headlines notwithstanding," he said.

PPP Senator Sehar Kamran came hard on Pakistan Muslim League (N) while Senator Sardar Azam Musa Khel of Pakhtunkhwa Mill Awami Party spoke against the SC verdict in Panama Papers case and Tahir Mashhadi of Muttahida Qaumi Movement said that political situation after Panama case was in completely chaos and there was totally absence of governance in the country. He said that court instead of going against all those whose name was in panama papers had taken against one individual.

Azam Swati of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said that Panama case was a step towards independence of judiciary where most powerful would be accountable.

JI Senator Sirajul Haq said parliament would be powerful when constitution and institutions would be powerful instead of families and individuals.

PML-N Senator Abdul Qayyum said the country was confronting serious challenges as militants were not yet defeated and energy projects were being implemented but the problem of load shedding was yet to be addressed.

He added that political environment is totally paralysed and parliamentarians are not ready to rise above their parties' level. About Articles 62, 63, he stated that his understanding was that everybody was truthful and sagacious unless he was proven otherwise and if there is any ambiguity in it, it must be done away with it.

MQM Senator Mian Attique suggested using careful language about the institutions. Supporting the court decision, PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that SC applied Article 62, 63, which existed in the constitution.

Earlier, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar presented electoral reforms report along with the draft Election Bill 2017 to the Senate and four dissenting notes of each by PTI, MQM, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and JUI-F. He said that the report was finalised after 129 meetings of the committee and sub committees. He said the government wanted next election in 2018 should be held under the new law.

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