ISLAMABAD - The protest of opposition parties yesterday in the Senate marred the entire proceedings of the house against the response of the government to the Mina tragedy in Saudi Arabia.

All the opposition parties led by PPP in the Upper House except Balochistan National Party - Mengal (BNP-Mengal) first staged a walkout and later the protest turned into a boycott of the house. At last, Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani had to adjourn the house till today due to lack of quorum.

The upper house of the parliament has 104 members and one-fourth or 26 members constitute quorum, unless it is pointed out. After the boycott of the house, PPP Senator Sehar Kamran pointed out quorum and the chair first adjourned the proceedings for thirty minutes and when the house resumed, it had to adjourn, as the government could not gather the required quorum.

The protest of opposition benches was triggered after members of PPP and ruling PML-N entered into the same blame game and mudslinging for the third consecutive day that had with the debate on corruption on last Tuesday. Though the Chairman did not allow them to engage in a war of words, they made their points in one way or the other.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan for the third time tried to ask question from the government about the income tax paid by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during 90s but Rabbani did not allow him.

Ahsan launched a second attack on the government and this time with the Mina tragedy in Saudi Arabia. He held the government responsible for its failure to trace the identity of those Pakistani pilgrims who died in Mina during Haj. "More than 3000 Pakistani have either died or are missing there but the government is unable to trace their identity in this modern period," he said. He said that Nadra could identify the fingerprints of the deceased.

Ahsan said that there were some news reports that the dead had been buried there without asking from their heirs. The heirs of missing persons wanted to go to Saudi Arabia but the government was not helping them. He showed his apprehension that the Saudi government would demolish the graves of the dead soon. "The rulers are not only ineligible and corrupt but also cruel," he said. He alleged that the Mina tragedy was being pushed under the carpet through the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra). But we will not let this happen, he warned. He asked the government to inform what it did to trace the missing pilgrims.

Minister for Information Parvez Rashid in response said the PM had paid Rs 4 million tax this year but when he tried to give a tit-for-tat response to the Leader of the Opposition, the chair again intervened and asked him not to deviate from the topic.

About the Mina tragedy, he said that the government was looking into the matter seriously. The names and photos of the deceased had been posted on the website and the search operation for missing was underway.

Relatives of the martyrs would be given opportunity, after the completion of Hajj operation, to visit Saudi Arabia to offer prayers at their loved ones' graves, he added.

He said that the PM had asked the religious affairs minister to stay in Saudi Arabia till the matter was resolved. Pemra only asked channels to refrain from such discussion about the Mina tragedy that could affect the brotherly relations of the two countries.

Aitzaz sought assurance from the government and asked, "Can you guarantee that the graves would not be raised to ground there." He questioned why the dead bodies had not been brought back?

Pervez Rasheed said that the pilgrim give in writing to the government that they should be buried there in case of death during pilgrimage (Haj). We will try to bring back the dead bodies of those whose heirs would ask so as was done in the case of - relative of former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, he concluded.

With the remarks of the information minister, the opposition staged a protest walkout saying that the government was not making serious efforts to trace the missing and to bring back the bodies of the dead.

Later, Chaudhry Tanveer from the PML-N said that the atmosphere of the house from last few days was not appropriate but Rabbani barred him saying to discuss the issue with him in the chamber over a cup of tea. However, PML-N lawmaker did not miss the opportunity and went on to say that it was painful that some parties were making baseless accusations without proof.

"When politicians accuse one another, then there are some motives in the background," he said while suggesting that this needed to be investigated In addition, he also made an indirect reference to Ahsan saying it should also be looked which people got quota [LPG].