ISLAMABAD - Senators from various political parties Monday criticised the caretaker governments as well as Election Commission of Pakistan for not taking appropriate steps to ensure free, fair and transparent general elections to be held on July 25.
Among the senators who spoke in the House were from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz who vented verbal anger complaining their party candidates are not being given a level playing field in the election campaign.
Taking the floor, PML-N Senator Chaudhry Tanvir Khan alleged that some forces are creating hurdles in the PML-N’s electioneering. He said that FIRs have been registered against all PML-N candidates from Rawalpindi for accompanying retired Captain Safdar, a party colleague while he was arriving at court. The PML-N senator asked the chair to constitute a committee to take notice of such things and ensure free, fair, and transparent elections across the country.
Former Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid maintained that the Upper House should remain in session till conclusion of the general elections to oversee any misconduct in the election campaign. He was followed by other party colleague seeking free, fair and transparent elections in an environment in which all the parties are accorded equal playing opportunity. Those PML-N senators who spoke in the House demanding fair treatment to the contesting candidates of their party included Musaddik Malik, Sadia Abbasi, Asif Kirmani and Rana Maqbool.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Usman Khan Kakar while speaking in the House said the Senate should take notice of the violation of the election code of conduct as the Election Commission has failed to implement it.
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mushtaq Ahmed said it is responsibility of the Election Commission to ensure free, fair, and transparent election in consultation with federal and the provincial caretaker governments. He said no institution or power should be allowed to hijack polls. PTI leader Noman Wazir Khattak said it is unfortunate that some politicians are trying to protect persons convicted by courts.
PPP leader Rehman Malik said security of political leaders should be enhanced to avoid any untoward incident. MQM leader Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif urged all political parties to join hands to protect democracy in Pakistan by putting aside trivial differences.
PPP leader Sherry Rehman said all political parties want upcoming general elections as per schedule in a transparent and impartial manner. She said the caretaker set-up should take notice of the terrorism threats to political leaders. She stressed the need for increasing security for political leaders.
National Party leader Tahir Bazinjo said action should also be taken against those, who undermined the Constitution. PTI Senator Shibli Faraz and Sardar Azam Khan Musakhel also spoke.
Later, caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar while responding to a resolution moved by PTI Senator Shibli Fraz assured the House of taking steps to promote Islamic banking in Pakistan. Senator Faraz in his resolution urged the government to take necessary steps to abolish Riba at the earliest and at least 30 per cent of all new government debts should be replaced with Shariah compliant mode.
The Minister said Islamic banking industry has shown a growth rate of 14.5 per cent, which is fairly a fast expanding rate in last 18 years. She said five full-fledged and 16 conventional banks are involved in this business. Dr Shamshad also told the House that the Ministry of Religious Affairs has started placing Hajj deposits with Islamic banking institution with effect from 2015.
She was responding to another resolution of Shibli Faraz demanding that the funds of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony related to Haj, Zakat, and Usher should be replaced or invested under Shariah compliant mode.
The House unanimously passed both the resolutions. In her ministerial response to a question regarding imposition of taxes on tobacco growers in districts of Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Buner, and Mansehra, caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akthar said tax on tobacco is not collected from tobacco growers. The Minister said Pakistan Tobacco Board collects tax from buyers at the rate of five percent purchase value of the tobacco.
Earlier, the Chair announced a panel of presiding officers for the current session of the Senate who will chair the House in absence of Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the upper House. The panel includes Mian Ateeq Sheikh, Hidayatullah and Usman Khan Kakar.