ISLAMABAD - The Senate Friday saw tangible face-saving efforts both by the treasury and the opposition to end controversy over the fussy figures on casualties related to terror incidents.
The ruling PML-N and its allied parties, after discussing the situation at a consultative meeting chaired by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq in his chamber, decided to form a four-member committee to convince the opposition parties to end their boycott.
On the other hand, the PPP-led opposition decided to move a privilege motion against Interior Minister Chauhdry Nisar Ali Khan.
The Upper House which resumed with Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari in the chair sans PPP-led opposition, could not undertake its business ostensibly because of the fear haunting the treasury that the boycotting opposition might again exploit the situation on the question of quorum.
Leader of the House Raja Zafar-ul-Haq hurriedly convened a consultative meeting of the ruling allies and evolved a strategy to resume the house proceedings without the opposition by ensuring presence of treasury members required for the purpose.
As the House resumed after almost one and a half hours, Raja Zafarul Haq, on a point of order, told the members that a four-member committee had been constituted to convince the opposition to end its boycott. Suddenly, one of the boycotting senators, Zahid Khan from ANP, entered the House and pointed out lack of quorum. The chairman decided to go for count, but the chair was informed that 26 members were present, which the treasury took it as a great achievement and that too with the presence of an MQM member, Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadhi.
The moment Zahid Khan left the House, two PPP senators, Saeed Ghani and Faisal Raza Abadi, entered the House with another attempt to convince the chair that the proceedings of the Senate were illegal.
Senator Saeed Ghani also left the House along with his party colleague after the chairman cited rule five of the Rules of Business of the Senate, which permitted the Chair to continue the proceedings.
Meanwhile, the four-member committee, comprising Mir Hasil Khan Bezinjo, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Maulana Ghafoor Haideri and Abbas Khan Afridi, with the permission of the leader of the house, went out to persuade the opposition parties. They also moved the chairman to adjourn the House to meet again on Monday afternoon.
Later, at a press conference, the boycotting opposition parties said that a privilege motion had been filed in the Senate Secretariat against Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan with the signatures of 25 members. Mian Raza Rabbani of PPP told reporters that the motion says the terrorism-related figures provided by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the Senate were incorrect and should be taken back, while it was a democratic right of the senators to make such a demand.
The opposition parties also sought an apology from the interior minister for misleading the house, asking him to provide the correct number of the victims of terrorism. He said the opposition had set its strategy for Monday’s session, which would be announced on that day.
Rabbani termed Friday’s Senate session illegal and said the chairman wrongly interpreted the rule 5.
When his attention was drawn to the business of the Senate chairman, he said the chairman had rightly interpreted the rule 5 as per his own calculations, but he did not agree to his interpretation.
Rabbani said the government’s negotiating team had arrived to meet him and he had placed his demands in front of them. Replying to a query, he said the provincial government could not be held responsible for providing wrong figures to the ministry because it was the responsibility of the minister and the secretary to verify these figures. Senators Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q and Afrasiab Khattak of ANP, who were flanking Mian Raza Rabbani at the press conference, supported the arguments of the PPP senator.