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Senate body for ratification of international treaties, accords

12 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously affirmed on Tuesday that all international treaties and accords should be brought before parliament to ratify them.

The House committee, which took up Senator Raza Rabbani's bill regarding ratification of international treaties bill, held a threadbare discussion on the legislation.

Raza Rabbani pointed out the federal cabinet cannot accord approval to any accord or treaty without the nod of parliament and deplored that the same has been violated in the past.

He told the committee that during Pervez Musharraf's era, information was sought from the President's House, Prime Minister's Secretariat and Foreign Office regarding agreements with ISAF, IMF, USA, NATO and especially Shamsi Air Base but no response was received from these offices.

Also, the record was never made public about these agreements and no access was given to these information, he said.

Rabbani said that he had introduced the legislation as a private member bill in the Senate and sought one week time to add more amendments to it. Rabbani held the view that it is the right of citizens of the country that they are informed about the international agreements.

He also termed all those treaties and agreements enacted with the other countries by bypassing the parliament "unconstitutional" and opined that no democratic government can afford to keep people in dark about these agreements.

Leader of Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said that ratification of parliament for international agreements is binding by seeking it within 15 days under the clauses of the constitution.

Senator Sughra Imam pointed out that agreements being reached with IMF and other donor agencies are being concealed from the public. "The subsidy on the dictation of IMF is being withdrawn but parliament is not being taken into confidence," Sughra said.

Senator Syed Muzzafar Hussain Shah also supported the ratification of international agreements from parliament, and said that if the federal budget approval from parliament is mandatory after its approval from cabinet, the same should be practiced in international treaties.

Quoting examples of India and the US, shah said that ratification of international agreements from the elected bodies of these countries is practiced in letter and spirit.

He said that Raza Rabbani's bill would strength parliament and national interests can be served in a better way.

Committee Chairman Haji Adeel said that parliament is the supreme body and no agreement has any legal cover until ratified from parliament.

Officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice told the committee that government enacts the agreements by adhering to legal and administrative requirements.

Committee members also discussed complaints about foreign missions abroad and said the government should take immediate and stern steps to address these complaints of country's foreign missions.

End.

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