ISLAMABAD - Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) from the Opposition benches while continuing their protest in the Senate for the second day over the imposition of Governor Rule in Balochistan called for withdrawal of the decision by none other than President Asif Ali Zardari. The demand came from the Parliamentary leader of the party Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri after JUI-F boycotted the session stating that it would continue until the withdrawal of the decision of the Federal government to enforce Governor Rule.

Maulana Haideri on a point of order said that Governor Rule would not be the solution of problems of target killing and the mutilated bodies being found in the province.

He said the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi was similar to that of Balochistan but Governor Rule was never imposed in both these provinces.

“If Governor Rule was imposed due to the protest sit-in of the relatives of the deceased who became victim of bomb blasts at Alamdar Road Quetta, then why Federal government was not removed as a result of the four day sit-in of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Islamabad,” he questioned.

Senator Almas Parveen defended the decision of the President to enforce Governor Rule while Nasima Ehsan stressed that the decision should be declared null and void. PML-Q lawmaker Robina Irfan termed the decision as the need of the hour. Deputy Chairman Senate Sabir Ali Baloch gave a different version that was later rejected by Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari as he called it discretion of the President to impose Governor Rule in any of the province.

He said Governor Rule was imposed because former Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani was involved in the violation if rules, used to spend most of his time in the capital and the province was a true picture of bad governance.

He said JUI-F itself accused the Provincial Ministers of Balochistan for their alleged involvement in kidnapping for ransom incidents.

The Chairman ruled that Governor Rule was not the discretion of the President rather it was imposed on the advice of the Governor of the relevant province on the grounds that the law and order situation was unsatisfactory to run the affairs of the government.

He also observed that the issues in connection with the imposition of Governor Rule in Balochistan would be discussed in a joint sitting of the Parliament. Senator Farhatullah Babar, who is also the spokesman of the President, said that Governor Rule had been imposed under Article 234 (1) A & C after the receipt of an advice from the Governor.

“Article 234 (1) B has not been included for the imposition of the Governor Rule in Balochistan that meant Provincial Assembly did not stand dismissed.” Some lawmakers from the ruling PPP also condemned the action of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to impose ban on fresh recruitments in all the provinces and the Federal government what they said it was overstepping its mandate. 

They said that ECP could not pass on such directions until the start of the election process and the tenure of the present Assemblies still left for around two months.

PPP Senator Saeed Ghani said ECP was taking such action under the pressure from a certain group of media. “If the recruitment process is not transparent any where then anybody can go to the court,” he said ,adding, that ECP was going to become controversial by taking such steps.

Mukhtiar Ahmed Damrah said that this action of ECP was not fair, as the government had promised to give more and more employments and this step would increase unemployment in the country.

Independent lawmaker Mohsin Leghari on a point of order termed the announcements of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Governor Punjab Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood declaring certain parts of the Punjab as the part of the new province as unreasonable. Senator Farhatullah Babar said the Parliamentary Commission on the Creation of New Provinces in Punjab did not own any remarks given other than any member of the Commission or its Chairman.

“Commission has not finalised its report and deliberations are underway,” he said.

Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah of PML-F said it did not make the sense that the tenure of the present Assemblies had only left for 50 days and the by-polls had been announced for different Provincial and National Assembly seats.

He demanded that Peoples’ Representation Act should be amended in such a way that no by-poll should be held six months prior to the dissolution of the Assemblies.

Senators Tahir Hussain Mushhadi of MQM and Jafar Iqbal of PML-N raised the issue of recent increase in prices of petroleum and what Mushhadi said OGRA was a monster and there was mafia involved in minting millions of rupees as a result of such increase. Senator Iqbal called it engineered corruption and suggested that the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources should be given the task to determine the prices of petroleum.

He also brought the attention of the chair towards the absence of Ministers in the House.

Reiterating government’s stated policy that drone strikes inside  Pakistan are counter-productive, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday assured the Upper House of the Parliament that the government will take up the drones issue with Washington and its Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson.

The statement came in the backdrop of other day’s criticism on an under consideration counter-terrorism strategy of the Obama Administration - where reportedly the CIA will be given a free hand to direct drone strikes inside Pakistan - by the Senators.

“We repeatedly have raised our concerns on the US drone strikes which are proving counter-productive in the war against terrorism,” she said during her policy statement in the Senate ,adding, those strikes were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday said “drone attacks on Pakistani territory are violation of international laws and virtually proving counter- productive,” she maintained ,adding, an opinion was emerging in the entire world, including in the US, which goes against drone attacks.

She said Pakistan wanted cordial ties with all neighbouring states, including India, adding, that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister and Army chief would not be issuing irresponsible statements as had been made by their Indian counterparts.

“The government does not believe in issuing irresponsible or provocative statements for the purpose of posturing,” she said.

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir had urged India to tone down what he called “Pakistan bashing” over a spate of military clashes on LoC between the neighbours.

Meanwhile, the House was also informed that PIA has suffered financial losses to the tune of Rs 401 million in Haj operation 2012.

Answering the question of Begum Najma Hameed in Upper House, Minister for Defence Sardar Saleem Haider said PIA had demanded Rs 108,500 as Haj fare but the Ministry of Religious Affairs had fixed much lesser fares that prompted the financial losses to the PIA.

He said a total of nine aircrafts are being purchased on dry lease. Out of which four aircrafts would will arrive in April while remaining five planes would arrive by December this year, he added.

He said currently PIA has 38 aircrafts out of which 25 planes are operational. PIA incurred losses up to Rs 141 billion from 2002 to 2012, he stated.