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Senate opp walks out over Imran's statement

14 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Upper House of parliament on Thursday staged a token walkout from the Senate against the government's perceived silence over Imran Khan's remarks that the prime minister had told him that there is 40 percent chance of success if a military operation is launched against the Taliban.

Opposition leader in Senate Raza Rabbani said the government has still not given an explanation over the statement of the PTI chief. He said around 20 terrorist attacks have occurred following the start of peace talks with the Taliban, and over 120 people have been killed in them. "This is a serious issue which puts defence of the country at stake." Meanwhile, ANP's Senator Zahid Khan claimed that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has totally failed to ensure protection of human lives and property.

Later, the opposition members staged a symbolic walkout over the remarks of Imran Khan. Meanwhile, opposition leader in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said the government seems to be completely paralysed, saying that the attacks have continued despite the government's talks with the Taliban. He asked the prime minister and interior minister to end their "boycott" of Senate and take the parliamentarians into confidence. MQM's Nasreen Jalil was of the view that if peace talks make progress efforts should be made to stop terrorist attacks, such as the one that occurred in Karachi. She said Imran Khan's statement is like an insult to the whole nation.

JUI-F's Senator Ghulam Ali said all parties gave the mandate to the government for peace talks with the Taliban, and asked politicians to desist from projecting the peace talks in a negative way on TV shows. Leader of the House in Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq said there is a national consensus on seriously taking forward the dialogue process to root out terrorism from the country. Responding to the points of order raised by Aitzaz Ahsan and others ‚ he said that some foreign elements want to sabotage the dialogue process.

He said there are reports that a neighbouring country has spread its network in the country and is providing arms and finances to different elements to destabilise the country. He said the government is alive to the situation and will foil these nefarious designs. About the threats received by different parliamentarians‚ the leader of the House said that he will raise this issue with the Ministry of Interior so that security could be ensured to the parliamentarians.

The Senate also began discussion on a motion regarding privatisation policy of the government. Commencing the debate‚ Mian Raza Rabbani described the government's privatisation policy as anti-worker. He said the government should enhance its tax net by imposing tax on the affluent class, and the money generated from it should be spent to transform the state-owned enterprises into profitable entities. He said the privatisation policy was adopted over the direction of the IMF.

During the recent meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), Sindh chief minister disapproved the privatisation of DISCOs and the PPP has the power to refer the privatisation policy to parliament for proper debate.

"On one hand the government is generating money through privatisation while on other hand, through SROs culture, more than Rs 400 to Rs 500 billion exemptions were granted to elite class of the country." He said the main purpose of the privatisation policy is to given state enterprises to near and dear ones of the government members on cheaper rate. He also made some recommendations about privatisation policy of the government.


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