ISLAMABAD - The treasury and opposition lawmakers in the Senate yesterday staged a protest walkout during an in-camera session while terming the briefing of the Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz unsatisfactory on issues of foreign policy regarding recent developments on the international stage.

The opposition benches including MQM, two nationalist parties of Balochistan from treasury benches and Fata lawmakers staged a protest walkout at the end of three and half hours long in-camera session of the Upper House, saying the briefing of the adviser PM was far from satisfactory.

The lawmakers said that there was nothing new in the briefing on issues of country's foreign policy regarding Saudi-Iran tensions, its decision to become part of 34-nation Islamic military alliance, recent quadrilateral meeting to start reconciliation talk with Taliban in Afghanistan and the visit of Saudi foreign and defence ministers to Pakistan.

MQM Senator Col (r) Tahir Mashhadi the other day had sought a statement from the Adviser after highlighting the sensitivity of the issues of foreign policy including Saudi-Iran tensions and their implications for the country.

On this, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani had directed Adviser to PM to take the house into confidence in an in-camera session. He had directed this after Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said that the matter of Saudi-Iran tensions was so sensitive that the government could not want to throw it open at this stage when talks with both the countries were going on.

Fata parliamentary leader in the Senate Hidayat Ullah while talking to The Nation said, "There was nothing new in the briefing. Even the Adviser’s speech and answer to questions was far less informative than the media which had already published a lot on these issues". There was no need for in-camera session if such information was to be shared with the house, he said.

A lawmaker wising anonymity informed that Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan before leading the walkout asked Aziz, "What is new in this briefing?" As many as 28 lawmakers posed their questions to the adviser on the issue but he did not reveal anything new, he said. Sartaj Aziz said that government was neutral on Saudi-Iran tensions and their troops would not be part of the 34-nation military alliance, he said.

MQM lawmaker Tahir Hussain Mashhadi while talking to The Nation after the session also said that there was nothing new in the briefing and his stamen was same as he had already given on the floor of the National Assembly the other day. "We asked him why Pakistan was entering into alliance with Saudi Arabia, what kind of threat Saudi Arabia is facing, will our troops go to fight for the alliance," he said and added that Mr Aziz's replies were totally unsatisfactory.

Another senior lawmaker said that the government and the opposition had agreed to issue a joint media statement after the briefing but they could not do so after the protest walkout.

Separately, the house adopted the recommendations of the Senate Finance Committee on the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016 moved by Committee Chairman Senator Salim Mandviwala. The house will send these recommendations on this money bill to the National Assembly.