ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament on Friday witnessed uproar over the issue of provincial quota system with a walkout from the Opposition benches after exchange of hot words across both sides of the aisle.
PML-N Information Secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan and PPP senior leader Mian Raza Rabbani exchanged hot words with each other.
During the question hour session, Mian Raza Rabbani seeking explanation on a question posed by Senator Zahid Khan severely criticised the incumbent government for its silence over the issue of provincial job quota system, stating that the rights of smaller provinces were being usurped.
He said the date already extended for 40 years for provincial job quota expired on August 13 and had not been extended till yet by the government.
The Constitution of 1973 had fixed a period of 10 years for the provincial job quota and successive governments in 1980s and '90s had extended it for 40 years.
Rabbani said that the government did not explain its position on the issue so far though an act of Parliament should be introduced to extend the time period. "We all have become hostage to one province-Punjab," he remarked.
The reply of Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada was that the Cabinet had taken up the issue and the provinces would be taken on board also, as the Prime Minister had also desired so.
The statement of the Minister infuriated Rabbani who said that Punjab had monopoly over other provinces and this quota system was never observed for all other three provinces.
Senator Rabbani further said how the government would take on board the provinces when the matter had not been referred to Council of Common Interests (CCI) and if it had to send to CCI then why the Cabinet took up the issue.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said that Rabbani had raised an important issue in the light of Article 27 of the Constitution and this House was the proper forum to discuss it as the Senate had equal representation to all the provinces.
"We should care for the rights of the federating units and the issue should be referred to the Privileges Committee," he added.
As the Deputy Chairman Senate referred the matter to the Senate Committee of Privilege, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq condemned the ruling of the chair saying the decision was taken without hearing the viewpoint of the Treasury side.
At the same time, Mushahidullah Khan rose from its seat and questioned the partiality of the chair, stating that Opposition benches were getting more time to speak on the floor of the House.
This infuriated Rabbani and hot words were exchanged between both of them that were later expunged by the chair.
Later, the entire Opposition staged a walkout from the house over the attitude of the Treasury benches.
Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq was of the view that the Senate was a serious house and such rumpus was against its traditions.
He said that the Cabinet had approved for an extension in time period of provincial quota system and the act of the Parliament would be introduced soon. The House was adjourned till Monday at 4 pm.
Later, Rabbani and Mushahidullah Khan both apologised with each other after the end of the Opposition's walkout.
The Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 and a report of the Senate Special Committee on mass transit system for Islamabad were also laid before the House.