-Senate session became raucous after PDM parties refused Gilani’s leadership
-5 PDM parties asked for separate opposition benches in Senate
-PDM parties sideline PPP from movement against government
-PDM issues show cause notices to PPP, ANP
By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
Islamabad: The Senate session on Monday became raucous after five parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement showed the cracks within the alliance by demanding separate opposition benches within the upper house.
The five parties in question were Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M).
“We should be allotted separate opposition benches and the hidden cameras in the Senate elections should be investigated,” said Senator Azam Nazir Tarrar of the PML-N, who led the five-party delegation which consisted of 27 members.
The other half the anti-government coalition, who had sided with the incumbent Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousaf Raza Gilani, protested the move. Moreover, members of the government itself also raised hue and cry once gifts were presenting to the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). A commotion broke out during the session, which was chaired by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. Tarrar, during the first session of the current Senate, said that he was saddened by the selection of the opposition leader. He said that 27 senators from five parties have formed a separate opposition group. The PML-N leader added that the opposition will play a “positive and constructive” role.
Moreover, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senior leader Yousaf Raza Gillani on Monday assured to work with all the opposition parties.
Speaking in the upper house of the Parliament, Yousaf Raza Gillani said that being a senator is not an easy task as you need to perform your duties with honesty. Senate election was “mother of all the elections,” he stated. The opposition leader advised newly-elected members in the upper house to learn from the experiences of the old senators. We will also become the voice of the government in difficult times, he added. Gillani further expressed that the various members of the Senate have to work together to resolve the issues of the masses.
Senator Yousaf Raza Gillani confirmed receiving a show-cause notice by the PDM. “The PPP has received PDM’s show-cause notice, but not yet replied,” Yousaf Raza Gillani said in his informal talk with the journalists after addressing in the Senate session. He said until now, the PPP has been part of the opposition PDM alliance and will comment on the situation later.
Both the PPP and Awami National Party (ANP) have been served show-cause notices over alleged violation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s consensus decision and principles. The notices were issued after approval from the PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. PPP has been asked to explain within a week, its conduct of getting appointed its candidate, former PM Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, as leader of opposition in Senate, by defying the consensus decision of component parties of the Opposition alliance
Meanwhile, Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem on Monday invited the opposition parties to join hands with the government for electoral reforms. Speaking on the floor of the house at the beginning of the new parliamentary year, he said electoral reforms were the only way forward in resolving issues about elections. Congratulating the chairman for his second term, Shahzad Waseem expressed the hope the opposition would play its constructive role in making the parliament more functional. He said the upper house has a special role in the parliamentary form of democracy and no one could deny its important role. Constructive criticism was the essence of real democracy and we would welcome it, he added.
However, he said our narrative should be in the national interest. Later, Dr Waseem also moved a motion in the house for setting up various committees.
On a more conducive note, the Senate on Monday passed a resolution regarding increased efforts in vaccination drive against Covid-19. The resolution urged the government to provide either free of cost anti-corona vaccine to the general public or at the original international market price.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Senator Sania Nishtar called upon the entire society to combat the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and make the vaccination drive successful. Speaking on a resolution in the upper house of the Parliament, she said the pandemic was a national security issue that should be dealt with by keeping aside the political differences.
She added that the government successfully dealt with the first two waves of the virus keeping in view the lives and livelihood of citizens. Sania Nishtar said the government has fixed prices of the vaccine under the Drug Pricing Policy in a transparent manner and as per worldwide norm, elderly people and frontline health workers were being vaccinated against the virus on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has served show cause notices to the PPP and the ANP (Awami National Party), it emerged on Monday. The development was confirmed by PDM secretary general and PML-N stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. It was not yet clear on what grounds the notices were issued, but earlier this week it was reported that they would be sent for not attending the alliance meeting on April 2 and violating its decision.
Speaking to reporters, Abbasi said that the show cause notices have been issued after approval from PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman.”The notices have been sent on WhatsApp. Hard copies will be handed over during today’s Senate session,” he said, adding that both the parties have been given seven days to respond to the notices. Whatever answer is received will be presented during a meeting of the opposition alliance’s constituent parties, he said. “The PDM will decide the future course of action.” He also said that it was written on the notice that the opposition alliance will not make it public. However, both the parties can make them public if they wish to do so, he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gilani confirmed that the PPP had received the notice.