Senate unites to move towards house committees formation

Notifications of 42 committees issued shortly after the house unanimously adopted motion

ISLAMABAD   -   Unlike the National Assembly, the Senate on Monday unanimously adopted a motion paving way for the formation of standing and functional committees of the house – a process that had been facing delay for the last two months due to a stalemate between the ruling coalition and the opposition PTI.

The Senate Secretariat issued notifications of as many as 42 committees shortly after the house adopted the motion moved by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman under Rule 174 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012, on the last day of the 60-day deadline.

The rule says standing committees are to be formed within two months after election of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Senate.

The standing and functional committees of the house may be elected by the Senate composed of the members as per the proposed lists, reads the motion, also authorizing Chairman Senate Yousaf Raza Gilani to make changes in the composition of the said committees “as and when he deems fit.”

Before moving the motion, Senator Rehman told the house that the Senate Secretariat had formed preferences of committees for the members through an IT software. She added that the process had accommodated more than 50 percent preferences of the lawmakers.

Since the election of chairman and deputy chairman Senate on April 9, the formation of committees had been stalled as the opposition PTI was demanding chairmanship of some important committees including the standing committee on finance. However, the matter was almost resolved a few days ago but there was still a deadlock on the chairmanship of a few committees.

Speaking in the house, opposition leader Senator Shibli said that the process of formation of committees had been dragged too long unnecessarily and there was anxiety among members of both sides of the aisle about this “secretive” mechanism. He pointed out that it was the prerogative of the leader of the house, the opposition leader and leaders of parliamentary parties to give a list of preference of members of their parties. “But the proposed preference lists are computer-generated,” he said, adding that members should be allocated committees on the basis of their knowledge and expertise.

He also said that a final decision on the allocation of chairmanship of some committees has yet to be made on the basis of the number of strength of each party in the house. “I had given a clear formula that the opposition should be given chairmanship of those committees, which were with it for the past 10 years,” he added.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said they would extend full cooperation in this regard. He suggested immediate elections for the chairmen of the standing committees on finance and planning and development.

Earlier, PTI Senator Saifullah Abro informed the house that the CDA officials along with the machinery on Monday morning reached the residence of the opposition leader apparently to demolish some parts of the house.

He requested the chair to refer the matter to the house privilege committee for an investigation where all officials concerned should be summoned to bring them to justice.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that the report should be presented before the house to explain if it was some anti- encroachment operation and what was the purpose of it. She showed her surprise how CDA came to the residence along with bulldozers when the opposition leader had been living there for the last 15 years. “The privilege of the house has been breached,” she said, seeking clarification from the government over the issue.

Leader of the Opposition Shibli speaking on the floor said he had done no illegality and hoped that report would endorse his stance.

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