ISLAMABAD - Only four days after the Opposition got passed the Panama Papers Inquiry Bill from the Senate, the government yesterday introduced its own proposed law in the Upper House.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid moved the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016 in the Senate that is being opposed by the Opposition parties including People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The Bill, which had already been passed by the National Assembly, was referred to the concerned committee for further deliberation.

The Opposition opposed the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016 stating that the law is not specific to the Panama leaks, as the ruling party did not want that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could be held accountable.

It is most likely that the Opposition having majority will block this bill in the Senate and the Opposition’s Panamagate bill would face the same fate in the National Assembly.

Ultimately both the bills would go to the joint session of the Parliament, where the ruling party enjoys the majority.

According to statement of objects and reasons, the existing law relating to appointment of Commissions of Inquiry and empowering them for the purpose is the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956.

The Act has been invoked for setting up fact-finding commissions on a number of important national issues in the past.

However, on some matters the need has been perceived for a commission with greater powers than those that can be conferred under the Act, it says.

“It is, therefore, considered desirable that a new law be enacted enabling the government to confer additional powers on a commission of inquiry where the nature of the issue is being inquired into so requires. Accordingly the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016 has been prepared to achieve the aforesaid object,” it added.

Separately, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani directed Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq to ask the law minister or minister in-charge for cabinet division, to brief the House on Wednesday (today) about government’s decision to transfer the administrative control of five major regulatory bodies from cabinet division to the ministries concerned.

“Don’t you think that this decision, the very concept of a regulatory body comes to an end,” questioned Rabbani.

Meanwhile, the House will hold a debate for two hours on the report of Inquiry Commission on August 8 Quetta carnage led by Qazi Faez Esa after the chair fixed an adjournment motion in this connection.

As many as 14 Opposition and Treasury lawmakers including PPP, MQM and PkMAP had moved the motion.

Speaking on the admissibility of adjournment motion, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman criticised the ruling government’s in action against terrorist organisations. She demanded Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan should accept responsibility and resign as the report had exposed the latter’s poor performance and his links with banned outfits.

Speaking on a call attention notice, PTI legislator Senator Azam Khan Swati questioned the requisite NoC of the Ministry of Interior for officials of NGOs and foreign delegates to visit or work in KP.

He pointed out that the ministry cancelled the visit of DFID head in Pakistan Richard Montgomery to Peshawar where he was to meet the chief minister and KP Assembly speaker.

He said cancellation of DFID’s head visit on December 6 under the pretext of NoC, showed that the ruling government wants to centralise the powers which was a violation of 18th Constitutional Amendment.

“The KP Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution asking the federal govt to withdraw the condition of acquiring NoC for foreign delegates to visit the province, and we condemn this act of the federal government to stop foreigners’ entry to KP,” he added.

The PTI senator said there was a need to give more administrative and economic powers to provinces, but the federal government is discouraging foreign delegates from visiting KP.

However, State Minister for Interior Engineer Baleeghur Rehman viewed that the Interior Ministry never stopped DFID head from visiting KP.

“The DFID head had neither applied for an NoC nor there is any such record with the ministry that he was ever stopped from visiting Peshawar,” he said, adding there were some sensitive places in Pakistan where entry of foreigners was not allowed under Foreigners Order, 1951. He also said there were laid-down rules for movement of foreigners under the law, and amendments can be made in it if needed.

The House referred the issue of Area Study Centre in the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in the federal capital to the House Committee on Cabinet to recommend how to save the institute from extinction.

Senator Farhatullah Babar pointed out the issue and said that as a result of devolution and demise of Federal Education Ministry the Area Study Centre located in the QAU had become almost moribund and needed to be rescued.

He said that Area Study Centres located in various universities of the country were conceived as foreign policy think tanks to give expert opinion on alternate policy options specific to geographical areas assigned to these centres in the country.

The Islamabad Area Study Centre being one of them was also set up under 1975 Act of Parliament, he said. He pleaded for the Senate to intervene.

Chairman Raza Rabbani ruled that the matter be referred to the Senate committee dealing with cabinet division to examine the issue and make appropriate recommendations.