ISLAMABAD - The Senate carried out wide-ranging business including incompletion of devolution process, phenomenal hike in electricity price, revival of National Security Council and discussion on Presidential address when it resumed under the chairmanship of Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari on Wednesday.
Members from both the opposition and treasury benches of the August House voiced their concerns over the incompletion of devolution process under the 18th constitutional amendment. The issue came into the spotlight after Senator Zahid Khan of ANP agitated through frequent points of order that since education and health sectors have been developed to provinces and had become provincial subject, therefore, it was unconstitutional to discuss these in the Upper House.
Senator Hassil Khan Bazenjo from the treasury benches while supporting the contention of the ANP senator sought solution of the lingering problem through the House.
Taking notice of these concerns, the Chairman immediately drew the attention of the Leader of the House Senator Raja Zafarul Haq and sought his input.
Speaking on the issue Raja Zafar agreeing to the contention of the members informed the House that the House Committee headed by Senator Jhangir Badar would try to remedy the situation.
Another hot topic the House dealt with was the recent hike in the price of electricity. Senator Kamil Ali Agha from PML-Q and PPPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani through a joint Calling Attention Notice raised the issue contending that the development had added to the hardship of the poor consumers.
Responding to the notice, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali informed the House that federal government has nothing to do with power tariff that are decided and fixed by the NEPRA. He further said that the government had subsidy to the domestic consumers of hefty amount of Rs.345 billion, adding that the government has added 2200 megawatts of electricity into the national system since it came into power.
Revival of National Security Council was another important issue discussed in the House. Senator Mian Raza Rabbani while speaking on a point of order sought clarification from the government about the development, asking for Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to brief the House about the national security and foreign policy of the government.
Responding to Senator Rabbani’s concern Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq informed the House that he would request Sartaj Aziz to come and take the House into confidence soon.
This was followed by the ongoing debate on President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to the parliament. There were two members from the treasury including Rafiq Rajwana and M. Hamza who criticized President Zardari for using his office for political purposes. They were of the view that despite the landmark decision of the Lahore High Court, President who is symbol of federation continued his political activities as PPP Co Chairperson.
On the other hand, opposition members who took part in the debate largely included members from the PPPP who commended the President Zardari and his political sagacity in strengthening democracy in the country. The opposition members including Afrasyab Khattak from ANP, Farhatullah Babar, PPPP, Karim Khawaja, PPPP, Sahir Kamran spoke at length and hailed President Zardari for his political acumen and national policy of reconciliation that had helped only in addressing the major national challenges but also helped in peaceful transfer of power through democratic process. The House was adjourned to meet again today.