ISLAMABAD - Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani Thursday warned that addition of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) in the Council of Common Interest (CCI) could undermine Pakistan’s international position on Kashmir dispute.

Rabbani made these observations in response to a request to the Senate and Chairman for guidance by Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada how to go about bringing AJK and GB into CCI’s fold.

The Senate Chairman also observed and emphasised that the federal government ought to establish a separate Secretariat for the Council of Common Interest as per clause two of article 154 of the constitution and in accordance with the recommendations of the House Committee.

The chair said the CCI requires an independent secretariat to set out the agenda of CCI meetings as well as ensure implementation of its decisions.

The issue figured high when the Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif desires to bring the AJK and G-B into CCI’s fold.

The minister made this statement while winding up discussion on the annual report of Council of Common Interest for the year 2015-2016 he laid in the Upper House.

Riaz Pirzada said a summary has been forwarded to the Prime Minister for establishment of permanent secretariat of the Council of Common Interests as envisaged in the constitution.

He said the four federating units are sorting out their issues at the platform of CCI in an amicable environment. 

He said the decisions taken by the CCI have helped improve governance, promote harmony and unity amongst the federating units.

Earlier discussing the report, members from the opposition and treasury benches gave their suggestions to further improve the performance of the Council.

Senator Azam Khan Swati appreciated the government efforts for compiling of the annual report and said the government is amicably resolved the contentious and pending issue of payment of net hydel profit to the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He however emphasised the need for more equitable solution for fixing price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) which is used by the common people in the far-flung areas.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed also lauded the efforts for compiling of the report on time but called for greater transparency about decisions taken by the CCI and their implementation. He also suggested that time for CCI meetings should not be changed to make it more effective forum.

Senator Taj Haider accused the government of sabotaging the constitutional body for not convening its meetings on time.

He suggested that CII secretariat should have separate wings to expedite the process of devolution, including water, power, gas and minerals etc.

Senator Usman Kakar criticised the government for not discharging constitutional obligations with regard to the working of CCI.

Senator Abdul Qayum also spoke on the CCI report and commended the government efforts for compiling it well in time. The House was adjourned to meet again on Friday.