ISLAMABAD - The joint opposition in the Senate yesterday quietly ended its boycott stepping back from its previous stance that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should attend the upper house and explain his position with regard to Panama leaks.

As the house started its session a day after the prime minister attended the National Assembly to answer allegations over Panama leaks, the opposition joined the house proceedings without uttering a single word why it ended the boycott.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, who remained in the house for a short period, avoided to speak on the issue who otherwise had been stressing that opposition would continue boycott if PM did not come in the upper house and answer seven questions posed to him by the opposition in the wake of Panama Papers.

Separately, the chairman Senate asked the PM's adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to attend the house tomorrow (Thursday) and take the house into confidence over India's recent test of an Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile. The adviser while expressing concern over India' test of the missile had said the other day that Pakistan might consider upgrading its defence capabilities. "Our security is facing serious threats with this test and the adviser should brief the house on the issue," he remarked.

The lawmakers taking part in the debate on the annual reports of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for the consecutive two years from 2013 to 2015 stressed for the revival of the office of the CCI and for the establishment of a separate CCI Secretariat as required under the Constitution. They asked that the government should adhere to the Constitution by summoning the meeting of CCI within every 90 days. They alleged that the government did not timely bring the issue of holding of population census on the agenda of CCI. Senator Usman Kakar said that no provincial chief minister was ready to bring China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project on CCI agenda and the provincial governments were not interested to discuss other relevant issues at this forum. PPP lawmaker Sussi Palejo asked to raise water issues of Sindh at the CCI forum. Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini said government was not giving importance to this important forum.

Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada, concluding the debate, said the ministry had brought the issue of holding of census on the agenda of CCI but it delayed it for some three months because armed forces were not available for the security duties due to operation Zarb-e-Azb. "Census will not be cancelled and will be held," he said.

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, addressing the minister, remarked, "On your shoulders rests the weight of the federation. In our system CCI is the heart of federation and if you will not allow the heart to function, the system will be on ventilator." He directed that the house would bring a resolution with the recommendations to improve the performance of CCI as suggested by the minister.

The house also adopted the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2016 which was referred to the Standing Committee on Information Technology with remarks by the chair to include the Human Rights Committee during considering process on this bill.

MQM lawmaker Tahir Hussain Mashhadi walked out of the house over water shortage in Karachi and alleged highhandedness against MQM workers.

Senator Farhatullah Babar showered praise on Pakistan Navy over its pivotal role in maritime security. "The contributions made by the force towards socio-economic development of the coastal regions of Balochistan without the fanfare of publicity, documentaries, press releases and even without tweets," he said.