ISLAMABAD - Expressing deep concern over the missing persons’ issue, the senate Wednesday unanimously adopted a resolution urging the federal and provincial governments to take immediate and effective steps to ensure speedy recovery and release of all such persons.

The resolution moved by Professor Khurshid Ahmed of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) said the issue involves persistent violation of Article 9 and 10 of the constitution. “While acts of terrorism or subversion are unforgivable, every citizen is innocent till proven guilty through due process of law. The abduction, arbitrary lifting and forced disappearance of any human being is illegal and intolerable in a civilised society,” further says the text of the resolution.

The upper house of parliament through the resolution noted that the Supreme Court has also taken serious note of this grave situation in the country, particularly in Balochistan, Karachi and Fata. The resolution demanded that detailed report in this respect should be presented to the house as early as possible. Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek passed directions that the copy of the resolution should be sent to the relevant division for further necessary action.

Later on, the lawmakers, who are retiring on March 11, continued their speeches for the second consecutive day before the house was adjourned to meet again on Thursday at 10:30am.

Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani of PML-Q, who himself remained a cabinet member during the rule of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, in his speech admitted that democracy was the best form of governance system. He said that bad performance of the incumbent government was a great threat to democracy, though the opposition and the judiciary during the last four years always tried to strengthen the hands of the present set-up. He opined that senators should also be elected directly as it would absolve them of charges of horse-trading and lend significance to their recommendations for the passage of money bills. He also in a light way complained to the house for not helping him in the restoration of status of Bahawalpur as province.

Senator Haroon Akhtar of PML-Q (Likeminded) made an impressive speech and appreciated the performance of house standing committee which unearthed some big scams in the country. “The parties sitting in the government never seriously considered the recommendations of the standing committees,” he deplored with a heavy heart. Addressing the chair, he said they had seen many ups and downs during the last years like the rise and fall of Pervez Musharraf; the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti; branding of PML-Q as ‘Qatal League’ (party of murderers) by the PPP and then taking it into its arms; Mushahid Hussain Syed’s declaring PPP as corrupt and then efforts of PPP in getting him elected senator unopposed; the rising inflation and much more.

Senator Rehana Yahya Baloch was the last speaker who in her speech raised the issues of Balochistan, saying the rulers had no concern with the plight of the province. “Reconciliation with Baloch leaders was never done,” she said, adding that the targeted killings and kidnapping incidents were on the rise there. She questioned as to why Balochistan was considered as an enemy territory.

Senators Abdul Haseeb Khan and Ilyas Bilour on separate points of orders raised the issue of non-supply of raw oil to ghee factories and resented the ‘indifferent attitude’ of transporters. They feared the situation would aggravate in next three or so days and there would be severe shortage of ghee and cooking oil in the country.

Senator Sabir Baloch on a point of order objected to the publication of a cartoon in a section of press accusing the cartoon disparaged the house. He severely criticised the media group for ‘playing their negative role against institutions’. However, Professor Khurshid Ahmed said that they should be careful about such remarks as made by Mr Baloch. Senator Kazim Khan questioned that why the media did not criticise the military generals.

Senators Salim Saifullah Khan and Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi of PML-Q (Likeminded) raised the issue of appointment of the Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly, asking why Sindh government was not notifying the name of former chief minister Sindh Arbab Ghulm Rahim despite the fact that nine opposition members had proposed his name for the slot.

Mr Saifullah said that similar practice was being done in Balochistan. Leader of the Opposition Abdul Ghafoor Haideri also endorsed the point and added that it was unfortunate that there was no opposition leader in Balochistan.

Senators Tahir Hussain Mashhadi and Dr Khalid Somroo raised the matter of rising incidents of acid throwing on women, chopping off their noses and their killings in ‘karo kari’.

Agencies add: Also on Wednesday, the senate unanimously passed the Industrial Relations Bill 2012, to ensure more rights to labourers as members foresaw better industrial and economic development after enactment of this bill.

It was Senator Raza Rabbani to once again raise his voice for the rights of workers and bear the torch for strong trade union culture who presented this private member bill, probably going to be the best and the last piece of legislation for the incumbent house.

Members across the isle supported the bill eulogising workers welfare. However, they proposed some improvements and urged the government to ensure its effective implementation to benefit the poor labourer in true essence of the bill.

Apprising the house about the bill, Rabbani referred to the dictatorial regime of Pervez Musharraf when the existing law was amended through an ordinance and later made part of 17th amendment. “It was part of international agenda and a conspiracy against the rights of workers,” Rabbani said about the changes in the legislation during Musharraf era. He had tongue in cheek when he talked of the government responsibilities and remarked, “I failed to understand why the government din not move this bill.”

He also appreciated the input and contribution of all political parties and said other stakeholders were also consulted in finalising the bill.

Outgoing senator Prof Khursheed Ahmed once again reminded the government of its responsibilities to get the laws implemented in letter and spirit. “We have the best pieces of legislation. But most often fail during the implementation phase.”

He mentioned the exemption given to four institutions and demanded that there should be no ‘sacred cows’ and if these institutions cannot be brought within the ambit of this law, some specific laws be enacted for them to protect the rights of their employees.

Pakistan has ratified ILO Convention no 87 on Freedom of Association and Convention no 98 on Right to Organise and collective bargaining. This law will also help consolidate and rationalise the law relating to formation of trade unions and federations of trade unions, determining the collective bargaining agents, regulation of relations between employers and workers, the avoidance and settlement of any differences or disputes arising between them or and ancillary thereto.

However, the new law shall not be applicable to (i) Police, (ii) Defence Services or installations connected to Armed Forces; in the administration of state other than those employed as workmen; (iii) on the members of the security staff of the Pakistan International Airlines or drawing wages in pay group not lower than group V; and (iv) at Pakistan Security Printing Corporation or the Security Papers Limited and by an establishment or institution for the treatment or care of sick, infirm, destitute or mentally unfit persons excluding those being run on commercial basis.