ISLAMABAD - Despite sharp criticism of Co-chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari, outgoing Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani has emerged as the most effective chairman of the Upper House of the Parliament who is being seen as a reformer, by many, during his tenure.

Former president and leader of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari earlier this week lashed out at his own party stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani for towing the line of ruling PML-N and its lifetime leader Nawaz Sharif during his stint as chairman Senate — a statement that really perturbed Rabbani.

Since March 2015, the day he took oath of his office, Rabbani brought progressive reforms in the governance and performance of the Senate through many initiatives under the project “Restoration of the Majesty and Transparency in the Parliament (RMTP)”. The initiatives covered a wide range of areas, including the house, its committees and parliamentary outreach.

Following the criticism of Asif Zaradri, Raza Rabbani who has an association with the PPP for decades has hinted at not taking the oath as PPP senator in the new house.

Asif Ali Zardari on last Thursday accused Rabbani of not resisting the “anti-democratic” moves by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He further alleged that Rabbani did not resolve the party’s reservations regarding the 18th Amendment and sided with Nawaz Sharif during his tenure. Zardari said that Raza Rabbani towed the line of Nawaz Sharif as he ignored when the ousted prime minister violated the constitution several times during his tenure of Senate chairman. Earlier, Zaradri had rejected the proposal of PML-N that Rabbani should be the consensus candidate of PML-N and PPP for the slot of next chairman Senate.

The question arises here whether Raza Rabbani really had been towing the line of former prime minister or this is mere an allegation. A number of outgoing as well as sitting lawmakers of the house viewed that Rabbani had emerged as the most effective chairman of the Upper House who not only gave a tough time to the executive during his tenure but also restored the lost image of the Upper House. The house asserted during the chairmanship of the Senate, they added.

Outgoing Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, who remained member of the house since 2006 and was the main brain behind the drafting of Senate Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012, said that Rabbani never sided with the ruling PML-N as chairman and he always remained impartial. “The problem with the PPP is that Raza Rabbani did not become a Jiyala (diehard supporter) of his party while sitting on this seat as the rules and Constitution demand,” he said.

The outgoing chairman Senate always ensured that PML-N ministers and the entire government should be answerable to the house through imposition of parliamentary disciple and for this purpose, warnings were issued to the ministers many times and the discipline of the house was ensured. The executive, including the bureaucracy never remained answerable to the house before last three years tenure of Rabbani, he said. As chairman, Mian Raza Rabbani restored the dignity of the parliament, worked for the restoration of the democracy, for the rule of law and the implementation of 18th Amendment, he said, adding that the only reason that PML-N had proposed his name because he suits it in the present volatile political atmosphere of the country. PML-N is not getting that support from the National Assembly that is getting from the Senate for the supremacy of democracy, he said.

During the tenure of Raza Rababni, transparency and openness remained a hallmark of the house as a system of public petitions was introduced to give people direct access to the parliament. The house also approved the Code of Conduct for members and first ever Committee on Ethics was constituted to provide a transparent mechanism for the self-accountability.

Senate rules were amended to convert the house into “Committee of Whole” to make answerable those government functionaries and officers who are otherwise strangers to the house.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and intelligence chiefs last year briefed the members in an in-camera session of the Committee of the Whole House— a move that was called as the initiation of intra-institutional dialogue by Rabbani to save the system. During this tenure, public was given access to the attendance of members during the sittings of the house and committee meetings by making this record public on the Senate Website. The Senate for the first made public the attendance of the Prime Minister, the ministers and the ministers of state on the Senate Website.

During the stint of Rabbani as chairman Senate, Special Committee on the Devolution process was made a Functional Committee in order to regularly oversee and ensure implementation of devolution scheme in the light of 18th Constitutional Amendment.

Through self-imposed discipline, the chairman Senate decided to start the house proceedings exactly at the scheduled time. A tagline namely “House of the Federation” was added to the Senate emblem in order to reflect the constitutional scheme of creation of Senate of Pakistan in the emblem.

During this period, Senate rules were to ensure that ministers concerned shall, after every three months, appear before the house and report on all matters referred by the house and recommendations made by committees. Previously, there was no effective mechanism in the Senate to ensure the compliance of committee’s recommendations.

For the first time in the Parliamentary history of Pakistan, the Senate was given representation in the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during Rabbani’s tenure.

During the chairmanship of Rabbani, a special committee under the convenership of Leader of the Opposition Senator Aitzaz Ahsan was constituted to examine the issue of non-implementation of the decisions of the house on which the concerned ministries fail to report reasons of non-implementation within the stipulated time period.