ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet came under severe criticism in the Senate on Friday over their strong reaction on a ruling of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani that barred Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry from attending the sittings of the house.

Former Senate Chairman and PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani in his hard-hitting and emotional speech made on a point of public concern said that even a dictator never dared to point fingers at the office of speaker National Assembly and the Chairman Senate but this government did so.

Quoting the remarks of the information minister he gave in his press briefing about Thursday’s cabinet meeting that cabinet may boycott the Senate proceedings if Upper House thinks that the house could be run without the ministers, Rabbani said that this step would be violation of clause 6 of Article 90 of the Constitution.

The federal cabinet in the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday had given a strong worded reaction on the same day’s ruling of the chairman Senate that placed a ban on Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry from attending the remaining sittings of the house unless he tenders an apology over his outburst against the opposition. Briefing reporters about the cabinet meeting, the information minister had said the entire cabinet, including the prime minister, expressed annoyance over the ruling.

Commenting on the remarks of information minister that chairman Senate was not directly elected, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart said the members of the Senate and the chairman Senate have been elected as described in the Constitution of Pakistan. “If chairman Senate is indirectly elected, then President of Pakistan is also indirectly elected,” he said adding that even Prime Minister is elected to his office trough an indirect votes of the members of the National Assembly.

The government is kept on saying that whenever it talks about corruption in the Senate, there is rumpus in the Senate, Rabbani said and added: “I concede that you (government) came into election on corruption issue but against whom you are talking, they are already facing corruption cases in the courts.”

He referred to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and said that it was a sub-judice matter under the rules. He questioned whether only politicians were corrupt in the society. “Why the accountability is only confined to two or three parties, he said. He also said that this one-sided accountability was not acceptable in this country.

“Let the judiciary and civil and military be held accountable,” he demanded. He reiterated his earlier suggestion and said that a federal accountability commission should be formed in which all politicians, judiciary and military should be held accountable under one law. “If you have to try every one, there should be one law for this,” he said adding that this step could end corruption in the society from its roots. He said that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should work under this commission and it should decide whether a corruption reference has to be filed against any one or not.

Rabbani pointed out that that this government has been connected with some of the cabinet members of military dictator General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf. “When I see Mushrraf’s cabinet, it reminds of May 12 carnage, as well as the joint sitting in which Musharraf had shown his fist.” He said that there was a nexus in the thinking of Musharraf and this government. “We did not let anyone to disgrace the sanctity of the house in dictatorial regimes and we will stand firm to uphold its sanctity now,” he concluded.

Earlier in the start of his speech, PPP senator said that he has been seeing cracks in the foundations of this building of parliament for the last five days. “If you look at the walls of the Senate Hall, you can see cracks that are coming,” he said.  He said that it looked that forces of fascism wanted to raze these walls to the ground, abolish the institutions and the constitutional positions. “If this building was razed, I think no one from us would be able to come out of this debris,” he said.

Soon Rabbani finished, Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala who was chairing the session remarked that they all would protect the house and the democracy as well.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan in his response to the speech of Rabbani said he wanted to assure the house that “conduct of the chairman Senate has not been debated in the cabinet meeting.” He said that no one could dare about threatening both the houses of the parliament.

“These houses will stay forever but the people threatening them will be no more,” he said. He proposed formation of a house ethics committee comprising of the treasury and opposition members of the both the houses of the parliament. “The democratic forces, defence institutions and judiciary are on the same page,” he said.

Former Opposition Leader and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman welcomed the statement of state minister but added that information minister had talked about this in the public domain. PPP Senator Moula Bux Chandio demanded the government to take action against the information minister if cabinet did not discuss the matter.

To a query of Sherry Rehman, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Senator Azam Swati assured the house that the government would not bypass the parliament regarding its ongoing talks with the IMF to get a financial assistance from it.