ISLAMABAD - The federal government informed the Upper House of the Parliament on Tuesday that there was no proposal under consideration for opening of Taliban office in Peshawar as no terrorists could be allowed to open their office.

State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman said in categorical terms, “There is neither any proposal under consideration for opening of Taliban office in Peshawar nor PTI-led KPK government has sent any request to the federal government in this regard”.

He, while responding a call attention notice of ANP lawmakers, said that stance of the government was clear on the matter, as terrorists could not be allowed to open their office. “If the provincial government takes such illegal step, the federal government will take notice and will play its role remaining in the ambit of the Constitution,” he added.

Baleeg said statements attributed to PTI chief Imran Khan and KPK government’s provincial health minister were mere media reports while the government had not received any formal request from anyone in this regard.

“The government cannot remain silent on such an act and shall move forward to stop it,” he added after the opposition benches, besides MQM, staged a token walkout from the House over his reply what they said unsatisfactory.

The opposition senators said the reply of the minister about a call attention notice regarding the offer by KPK health minister to Taliban to establish their office in Peshawar was not good enough. They demanded the federal government to seek explanation from KPK government, as killers of innocent citizens could not be allowed to open their office in Peshawar. The House was then prorogued with the completion of its 11th parliamentary year.

The House blocked a bill apparently paving way for the appointment of Justice (r) Rana Bhagwandas as the chief election commissioner (CEC) what the lawmakers said the legislation as person-specific to favour person of own choice.

The Federal Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2014, that has already been passed by the National Assembly, was sent to the standing committee concerned after lawmakers of JUI-F from treasury benches and of ANP, PML-Q and also a PPP legislator opposed the bill. A treasury member independent lawmaker Mohsin Leghari also opposed the proposed legislation.

The lawmakers termed that the proposed legislation was meant to favour person of own choice and said this will increase the influence of the government on the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) and affect its autonomy. Through the proposed amendment in the FPSC Ordinance, 1977, the President can allow further employment of members of the Commission to a constitutional office in public interest. Previously, the members of the Commission, upon completion of term, were not eligible for further employment in the Service of Pakistan.

Senators also criticised former CEC Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim for what they said he did not hold the May 11 general elections in a transparent manner rather these were the most controversial polls of the country’s history. They said Rana Bhagwandas had become controversial as well as also over-age and he should not accept this appointment. “The government should not put at stake the integrity of FPSC through this legislation,” the lawmakers opined.

Haji Ghulam Ali of JUI-F said, “The ill-intention of the government was involved in the backdrop of this bill”.

He remarked that Fakhruddin G Ebrahim proved his appointment wrong by conducting the general elections in a non-transparent way. “The tradition of giving important responsibilities to over-age people should come to an end and the House should play its role in this connection,” he said while opposing the appointment

Senator Afrasyab Khattak of ANP, opposing the bill, remarked the government had not consulted with the party on the issue and said, “The election conducted under the supervision of Justice Ebrahim were election of (outlawed TTP leader) Hakimullah Mehsud”. He said the election results proved that former CEC could not perform his duties efficiently being overage.

Haji Adeel of ANP said, “The amendment in the ordinance of FPSC was a wrong step and the behaviour of PPP was deplorable”. He threatened that the opposition would bring in-House replacing Chairman Senate and Deputy Chairman Senate and they would do this. Zahid Khan said CEC should be appointed from KPK or Balochistan as every appointment was being made from Punjab and Sindh and the trend was dangerous for federation.

The lawmakers also expressed their confidence in Bhagwandas but at the same time said law could not be changed for a person. Dr Babar Awan said, “I support the appointment of Justice Das but the procedure for his appointment is not right”. Mushahid Hussain Syed said, “Lahori look was apparent in every step of the government”. He said the legislation gives the impression that personalities were supreme than law and Constitution.

Senator Farhatullah Babar suggested that the legislation should not be person-specific and the bill should be referred to standing committee concerned for discussion in detail. However, Saeed Ghani of the same party supported the bill saying it was regarding amendment in FPSC Ordinance and the issue should not be scandalised.