ISLAMABAD - The 20th Amendment Bill, which was unanimously passed by the National Assembly after lengthy deliberations with the Opposition, will take some time to become a law, as it was deferred in the Senate on Friday to have a consensus among the parliamentary parties in the house.
The tabling of the bill, earlier also deferred in the National Assembly for a number of times before its passage, was postponed till the next working day (Monday) before its presentation before the Senate , when Leader of the House Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari requested the chair to allow the delay for developing consensus among all the political parties.
The move was primarily aimed at having an agreement among those parliamentary parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), in the Senate that do not have representation in the National Assembly.
During the session, Salim Saifullah Khan from PML-Likeminded, on a lighter note, tied the legislation with the development funds for the senators and said they would vote in favour of the bill unless their funds were not released.
Many lawmakers endorsed him by thumping their desks while the chief whip of the ruling PPP, Islamuddin Sheikh, informed the house that the matter would be resolved by Monday.
Both the Treasury and Opposition benches staged a protest walkout from the house for what they said media’s irresponsible role in publishing and airing news about the arrest warrants of a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa senator.
The ANP, PML-Q and BNP-Awami from the Treasury and the PML-N, JI, JUI-F and the Baloch nationalist parties from the Opposition besides Fata members participated in the walkout.
Senate Chairmen Farooq H Naek had to adjourn the proceedings for 15 minutes, as the lawmakers belonging only to the PPP, MQM and two members of PML-Likeminded were in the house.
Haji Adeel Ahmed from the ANP, while raising the issue, said two or three days ago, a private TV channel and print media disseminated news that the arrest warrants for a Senator belonging to Khyber Pk had been issued through Interpol, adding that the report was not based on facts.
Senator Ilyas Bilour also demanded explanation on the issue and said the house should be informed about the name of legislator, if the news item was correct.
After the resumption of proceedings, Interior Minister Rehman Malik sought some time to contact the Interpol and get the details. But the senators demanded immediate disclosure of the name, as, according to them, the news was baseless and just to defame the legislators belonging to Khyber Pk.
The chairman gave the minister three days to clarify the issue.
Leader of the Opposition Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri raised the issues of kidnapping of his party leader in Balochistan, continued drone attacks after the Salala checkpost attack and resumption of the Nato supplies through air without the approval of the Parliament.
He asked why the government why it was not taking measures to counter drone attacks, despite the assurance given to the Parliament after the November 26 incident.
Haideri also sought answer from the government on whose permission the Nato supplies had been resumed without taking the Parliament into confidence.
Zafar Ali Shah, on a point of order, asked the government on whose orders supplies restored.
Prof Khurshid Ahmed said the government was not summoning the joint session of the Parliament to discuss the recommendations given by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security on the Pak-US relations.
He termed the resumption of supplies a breach of the privilege and sought a policy statement by the prime minister.
On an appoint of order raised by Hafiz Rasheed Ahmed Rehman, the interior minister assured the house that he would investigate the issue of threatening calls being received by the senator and his family members and share the findings with the senators.
Answering another point of order raised by Haji Ghulam Ali about the fake internet websites and cybercrimes, Rehman said the Cyber Crime Act Bill and Anti-Terrorism Act Bill were lying with the Senate Committee on Interior for last three years.
He, however, clarified that JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not an NRO beneficiary as described by a website.
Senators also offered fateha and paid rich tributes to the departed soul of former senator and member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Anwar Kamal Marwat. The house would meet again on Monday at 4pm.