ISLAMABAD - Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani on Monday said that efforts were underway to discredit the present Parliamentary system in the country to introduce a new Presidential form of government.

The remarks of senior PPP lawmaker came in the Senate during a debate in the House on the recent arrest of Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani by National Accountability Bureau and alleged killing of political worker and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Arman Loni in Balochistan as a result of police torture.

“The Federal Parliamentary system has been attacked under a well-thought-out plan”, he said. He termed the arrest of the Sindh Assembly Speaker as an attack on the Federation of Pakistan. He pointed towards different provincial nationalist movements and said that all had different objectives and there was no focal point between them.

He called this a dangerous trend. “This means that there is a big threat to the Federation,” he said.

He said that the Parliament should have to play its role in the given circumstances and added: “But you (Parliament) are walking on a different path”. “You want to disgrace the Parliament and introduce One Unit-like and Presidential system”, the veteran lawmaker said. “This will be adding fuel to fire which is burning in four provinces”. The former Chairman Senate said that Speaker office was a Constitutional post.

The Provincial Assembly Speaker is the custodian of the House that is part of State under Article 7 of the Constitution, he said.

He criticised the way NAB arrested Siraj Durrani and said that the State was attacked through this action. He said that Speaker office holds respect and dignity.

He termed the arrest of Durrani a deliberate attempt to ridicule Constitutional institutions what he said to make them redundant. “You should learn lesson from history”, he said.  Rabbani argued that the Parliament was the only institution that could keep the Federation united.

He reminded that the Chairman Senate that he was the custodian of the rights of federating units. “The rights of federating units were violated when Speaker was arrested unconstitutionally”.

He said that NAB should have filed a corruption reference against Durrani if he was involved in corrupt practices and should have left the matter to the courts.

“The real purpose [of ongoing accountability] is not to end corruption; rather, the state is using corruption as a tool to further its agenda”, he said, adding, that the agenda was to ridicule the Parliamentary system.  He requested the chair to ‘save the system, institutions and Federation’.

He added that accountability should be across the board. While suspending the orders of the day on the first day of the fresh session, a number of Opposition lawmakers taking part in the debate criticised NAB for the arrest of the Sindh Assembly Speaker and also raised the matter of alleged killing of Prof Arman Loni.

The government benches tried to dilute the situation as the PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz said that NAB was working under the mandate given by Constitution and Opposition could bring amendments in the law if wanted to change the procedure of arrest by the anti-corruption watchdog.  A Treasury member from Balochistan Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar also said that a final post-mortem report had yet to come which would ascertain the cause of Loni’s death.

He said that he was also a Pashtun and the community was facing no wrath at the hands of the State institutions. He said that facts were being twisted regarding death of Loni and Pashtuns.

PPP leader Senator Sherry Rehman speaking on the issue said that one side action was underway in the name of accountability.adding, that her party did not want to play Sindh card in this connection.

She said that the arrest was a move either to change the provincial government in Sindh or impose Governor Rule.

“It looks you give no value to Parliamentary democracy”, she argued.

PK-MAP Senator Usman Kakar said that Arman Loni was killed only for staging a protest sit-in and civil administration had been paralysed in Balochistan – an allegation that was refuted by Senator Anwar-ul-Haq.

 

Resolution:

The House unanimously passed a resolution strongly condemning the “premeditated reactions, threats and war hysteria by India”, stating this was escalated during the elections time in India. It criticised the ‘propaganda campaign launched by India against Pakistan” following the attack on a convoy of Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama, Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IoK).

The resolution moved by Leader of Opposition in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq appreciated and supported government’s stance of offering assistance to India in investigations of this attack and to take action on actionable intelligence or evidence. It reiterated that nobody should underestimate Pakistan’s ability and commitment to defend its borders against any external aggression.

It deplored the ‘continued State-sponsored violence orchestrated by Indian security forces against the Kashmiris in the form of disappearances, stage encounters, rapes, usage of live ammunition and pellet guns’.

It also condemned the ‘surge in atrocities perpetrated by India against the Kashmiris within the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as targeting of Kashmiri students in various parts of India’.

It acknowledged that ‘the Indian policy of using extreme force and repression has failed to extinguish the enduring flame of freedom and condemned this blatant repression of Kashmiri’s aspirations’. The resolution urged the government to effectively coordinate with international community to raise these human rights violations globally with a view to seeking a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.

Before the passage of the resolution, Senator Raza Rabanni got deleted a sentence from the draft that appreciated the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) for its role in highlighting the Kashmir issue.

He criticised the OIC for inviting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as guest of honour in the Foreign Ministers meeting of OIC scheduled to be held next month in Abu Dhabi. He termed the invitation as an injustice with the people of Held Kashmir.