ISLAMABAD -  The Senate chairman while raising a question on the appointment of former army chief Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif as head of the 39-nation Islamic military coalition on Monday asked the federal government to clarify its position on the issue.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani directed the defence minister and prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs to brief the Upper House till Wednesday on the appointment of Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif as chief of “Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism” headed by Saudi Arabia, and its implications on the foreign policy.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif would brief the house on Wednesday while Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has been asked to submit his reply as to what can be the implications on the foreign policy after the new appointment as well as what would be the status of the unanimous declaration of the joint sitting of the parliament that barred Pakistan from becoming part of the coalition.

The Senate chairman on the first day of the winter session asked the defence minister to clarify his statement on a TV channel “whether or not Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif has been appointed as head of the coalition”.

“I have heard your statement (about this appointment), you were not clear on it and after that, Spokesman for Prime Minister Dr Mussadiq Malik negated your statement that Raheel Sharif had been appointed,” Rabbani remarked. Rabbani said that if the appointment had been made, then what could be the rules of the government with reference to a retired officer taking an employment. “In the light of that, did he seek permission, if any NOC was issued, who issued that NOC and whether the federal government was taken into confidence,” Rabbani asked the defence minister to answer these questions.

After hearing the queries of the Senate chairman, the defence minister said that the chairman had interpreted his TV statement well that he was not clear. “I will respond to all these questions the day after tomorrow,” he said.

The house also discussed the recent disappearance of four rights activists and alleged torture of 10-year-old child maid Tayyaba in Islamabad. Eighteen lawmakers and the Senate chairman spoke on the subject for an hour and 34 minutes.

The lawmakers demanded action against two judges of the lower judiciary of Islamabad— Additional District and Sessions judge Raja Khurram Zaman from whose house the child was recovered, and another judge who had settled the issue. The lawmakers sought their suspension until the case was adjudicated by the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing the case on a suo motu notice.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi said that it was deploring that the child maid was recovered from the house of a judge. “And the more disapproving fact is that another judge granted bail in the case only to save the wife of his fellow judge,” he said.

The Senate chairman said that unnecessary criticism of the judiciary was inappropriate. He referred the matter of child maid to the human rights committee. “I am really at a loss to see the treatments given to the children of this state,” Rabbani said and sought suspension of the two judges till the final decision of the case. Under the standing procedure, the accused are placed under suspension. He also sought a report from the interior minister on the alleged abduction of four rights activists till today.

The house passed three private members’ bills including the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill and the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill.

The NACTA Amendment Bill, moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar, makes it obligatory for the executive committee of the Authority to meet at least once in three months to oversee the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to root out terrorism and extremism.

The existing law does not stipulate when and how frequently the executive committee of the Authority must meet.

Separately, the chairman Standing Committee on Law and Justice presented a report regarding review of section 25 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 that deals with the voluntary return and the plea bargain.