ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Thursday in the Senate criticised the federal government’s decision to form high-powered National Development Council (NDC) to formulate development and economy-oriented policies of the country with chief of army staff (COAS) as its member.

PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani taking part in the budget debate raised the matter and said he was disappointed from all political parties that a body having no legal status was formed but no one dared to point it out.

“I want to question the government when National Economic Council, a constitutional body, is there, then why a body without having any legal status is being formed,” he said. Giving a reference of the relevant articles of the constitution, he said NEC had the responsibility to review overall economic conditions of the country. “So why are you replicating a body through notification that is provided by constitution.”

The opposition senator further questioned, “What is the need of having COAS in such a council as its member?” He added if this was a need to see a matter of national security, then National Security Council already existed with finance minister as its member. “I understand that the armed forces of Pakistan had a non-controversial role and to attach them with the economic policies of a political party would open them to criticism,” he said. He further urged the government to withdraw its decision of forming NDC as there was no need of it.

Senator Kakar calls for parliamentary probe into Kharqamar incident

Reading out some portions of the finance bill, Rabbani said its emphasis was a shift from the collective decision-making of government to an individual—prime minister. He said proposed bill gave inappropriate and unnecessary powers, without any legal procedure, to the commissioner income tax to raid any private facility and to freeze assets of a person who had left the country on the suspicions of tax evasion.

PPP stalwart regretted that “anti-masses” budget was prepared by the staff members of International Monetary Fund. The State Bank governor in its last presser said that all conditions of IMF had been met through the budget which was a clear proof that it was an IMF-made budget, he said. He said the seriousness of the government on the preparations of budget could be seen from the fact that planning minister and advisor to the PM on finance publicly said that Asian Development Bank had approved $3.4 billion loan facility for budgetary support for Pakistan. The next day ADB chief called the statement as factually wrong, he added.

Rabbani underscored that the government implemented the IMF agreement through the finance bill but neither the parliament nor public were taken into confidence over it. This raises question of transparency, tells that our financial sovereignty has been bartered, and national security has been put at risk, he said. “I am saying that national security has been put at risk because a military document of WikiLeaks says that US gets its policies implemented while using institutions like IMF.” He pointed out. He alleged that this budget supports crony capitalism and elitism culture of General Ayub Khan’s authoritarian model.

 Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Senator Usman Kakar in his budget debate said that a parliamentary commission should be formed on the incident of Kharqamar Check Post in North Waziristan to reach out the facts. He proposed another parliamentary commission on foreign debts to probe piling up of debts from General (Retd) Ziaul Haq regime to till date. “The commission should investigate who took loans and where they were spent during this period.” He also stressed that Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, who was present in the visitors’ gallery, should issue production order of two imprisoned MNAs of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement—Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman in his budget speech again criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for allegedly distorting Islamic history during his address to the nation on June 11 but without naming him. Unlike the past two days, the treasury benches remained silent as Rehman said that ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had called on him to request that they wanted to run the house smoothly and he would not name anyone in his speech. He said that anyone who distorted the history should apologize to the nation and withdraw his alleged statement.

Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar, a treasury member from Balochistan, in his speech tried to respond to JUI-F lawmaker, in a very responsible manner and said anyone should use careful language while talking on religious issues. Any unintentional remarks from anyone could incite violence, he said. He also indirectly advised JUI-F senator that religious scholars should avoid playing such role that incited violence and destruction.

Resolution: The house passed a unanimous resolution moved by Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed showing its deep sorrow and shock at the tragic death of former president of Egypt Mohamed Morsi during trial. “The struggle and sacrifices of Morsi for the cause of democracy, parliamentary supremacy, constitutionalism, civilian supremacy, rule of law, justice, and fundamental rights will not go in vain and shall be recognized  by all the democratic people around the world in general and the future generation in Egypt in particular,” the resolution said.

While expressing dismay and disappointment at the world apathy towards the sufferings of Morsi and other political prisoners, the Senate endorsed the observation and demand of the Human Rights Watch which has called for an independent judicial inquiry into the circumstances that led to the tragic death of former President of Egypt.

The Senate also urged the government to approach the government of Egypt and other Islamic states to secure fair trial of those under trial in Egypt and for treatment of political prisoners in deference to UNDHR (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and UN Charter, the OIC’s Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.