ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Wednesday failed to give an in-camera briefing on security to the specifically scheduled sitting of the Senate.Senate Opposition Leader Ishaq Dar criticised the minister when Deputy Chairman Sabir Ali Baloch informed the house that he had received a letter from Malik, stating he was unable to give in-camera briefing because of sore throat.Dar said that the minister had voluntarily promised to brief the Senate over the bad law and order situation in the country. “But he did not come to the house despite he is in Pakistan. The minister had used the term 'global syndrome' for terrorism and when there was a serious business in the house, his vocal cord muted,” he said.Meanwhile, Malik entered the house, saying that he decided to come because of the objections raised by his colleagues. He said that he was unable to speak due to sore throat and was under treatment. "I am genuinely sick, doctor has advised me not to speak," Malik said in a low tone. "It is the risk of my voice, I may lose it".The leader of the opposition apparently got satisfied with the request of the minister while the chair remarked that leader of the house and the leader of the opposition should discuss the matter to fix a new date for briefing.The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) exchanged harsh words on the remarks of latter's information secretary Mushahidullah Khan about late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto. The argument started when PPP legislator Mukhtiar Ahmed Damrah said the PML-N failed to hold a sit-in to reconstitute the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). "This failed attempt has weakened the case of political forces and benefited the cause of Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri," he added. Mushahidullah retorted saying that Tahirul Qadri was being promoted by the PPP which had left the dead body of its chairperson Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi. He said the PML-N had not given a public call for the sit-in. PPP chief whip Islamuddin Sheikh said that either Mushahid should withdraw his statement or the chair should expunge the remarks. He said derogatory remarks were used against the PPP slain leader.However, Mushahid deflected the onslaught saying that his statement was being twisted. A hubbub prevailed in the house and lawmakers of both parties wrangled. The deputy chairman later clarified that Benazir Bhutto was an undisputed personality and Mushahid did not say what Sheikh perceived.Speaking on a point of order, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) demanded the withdrawal of governor's rule in Balochistan. “It will be tantamount to disintegrate Pakistan. You want to unite Pakistan or disintegrate it," he asked the house after his party staged a protest walkout. He requested all political parties to get united against the undemocratic forces and should support his party on the issue. The Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-Awami), a collation partner of the PPP, also staged a protest walkout from the house. Daud Khan Achakzai of the ANP criticised government's decision to impose governor rule in the province.However, Hasil Khan Bazenjo of the National Party Balochistan scolded the remarks of Haideri, saying that the government in Balochistan did not exist in its true sense. "They are complaining that they were not allowed to work, I wish they might have done work," he added. He said that the government in Balochistan was being reinstated under a deal and the JUI-F would sit on the opposition benches. "But this action would be against the aspiration of the masses, he added.Objecting to the Lahore High Court (LHC) judges’ remarks that the Parliament had no powers to create a new province, Senator Saeed Ghani said that judges should respect parliament and avoid such observations. The lawmakers across the aisle paid tributes to Jam Mohammad Yousaf, former federal minister and chief minister Balochistan who died from a heart attack. The house also unanimously passed the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Bill-2012 and the Trade Organization Bill-2012 to establish the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and for the registration and regulation of trade organisations.

Published in The Nation newspaper on 07-Feb-2013