ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament Monday unanimously approved establishment of Senate think tank named Senate Forum for Policy Research (SFPR) by adopting amendments in Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate.

Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafar-ul-Haq moved amendments on his behalf and on behalf of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed. The primary objective of the forum will be formations of non-partisan national policies for addressing the problems of people.

The idea of think tank was conceived by Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari and floated in a meeting on January 8, 2014. The task was assigned to Amjed Pervez Malik, Secretary Senate who took the idea forward and firmed up the proposal under guidance of sitting Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and former Senator Ch. Muhammad Anwar Bhinder. Meetings were held in March, July and September attended by prominent sitting and former members from all political parties. After detailed discussions and brainstorming sessions, it was finally decided to establish a permanent body after insertion of new rules in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012.

According to the new Rules for the forum, the chairman Senate will act as the Patron of the Forum. The forum shall consist of sixteen members, eight sitting members and eight former members of the Senate who will be nominated by the Chairman in consultation with the parliamentary leaders. This composition of the forum will help promote partnerships among sitting and former members of the Senate.

The think tank will be constantly working as thinking organ of the Senate and will fill the missing link between the parliament, academia, CSOs and general public. The SFPR shall provide a research-based forum to the members of Senate to assist not only in internal proceedings which include House business as well as committee work but to represent parliament of Pakistan at international forums like IPU, CPA, APA etc in the form of publishing research papers.

The functions laid down for the forum include compilation of a book on parliamentary practices and procedures, compilation of a book containing Rulings of Chair providing input on policy issues and disseminating knowledge generated by committees as well as the House at international and regional parliamentary meetings, assist and advise the Senate, Chairman, Committee, Members and Secretariat of the Senate; promote partnerships amongst sitting and former members of the Senate besides conducting of workshops as well as seminars etc. The forum will prepare a statute Book of Pakistan, which will be kept under the custody of Chairman Senate.  The forum will keep compendium of Pakistan Laws up to date and compile speeches of members of the Senate. The forum will suggest ways to Senate to coordinate the activities between National Assembly particularly with reference to Private Members Bills, recommendations made by the Senate to the National Assembly in respect of the Finance Bill and matters related to the Special Committees, IPU and CPA. The forum will also advise and assist the legislative drafting unit and research cell of the Senate and the PIPS. It will advise the donor agencies regarding Parliamentary Development Programmes.