ISLAMABAD  - Opposition parties in the Upper House of the Parliament staged two separate walkouts on the issues of missing persons and mutilated bodies, privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills and nonpayment of salaries to its employees for the last three months.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement, however, stayed aloof from both these walkouts and extended complete support to the privatisation of PSM and PIA.

The 98th session of the Senate started at 4:45pm here on Monday with Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari in the chair. He announced a panel of chairmen to act in the absence of both the chairman and the deputy chairman.

Senator Zahid Khan, on a point of order, raised the issue of kidnapping for ransom and recovery of mutilated bodies across Balochistan. He also pointed out that National Party leader Zahir Kasi was kidnapped and demanded his immediate recovery. Zahid Khan said area police were given the information about the kidnapping of Zahir Kasi just 15 minutes after the incident; they also attempted to contact the federal interior minister, but he had not responded to their calls till to date.

He further said the senators also wanted to discuss the matter with the Balochistan chief minister, but they could not approach him for several days.

Later, led by Opposition Leader in the Upper House Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the opposition parties except MQM staged a token walkout to record their concern over the kidnapping of the Awami National Party leader and unabated kidnapping of people from Balochistan, throwing away of mutilated bodies and the unresolved issue of missing persons in the province.

Later, on the direction of the Senate chairman, Federal Minister Aftab Sheikh and Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan went out and brought the opposition back.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan would take the house into confidence on the overall law and order situation in the country with special reference to Balochistan imbroglio while the house would also be briefed on the prime minister’s US and UK visits.

The members would be given a two-day time for discussion on the law and order situation while the federal interior minister would wind up the debate.

Similarly, Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz would wind up the debate on the matters concerning foreign affairs and the prime minister’s US visit.

On a point of order, MQM Senator Col (r) Tahir Mashhadi referred to the killing of their party activist Dilshad Ahmad into the custody of the law-enforcement agencies and demanded the chief of army staff, the ISI DG, the Sindh chief minister and the prime minister to hold an independent inquiry into the incident.

He further said though MQM was among the forerunners to the launch of the operation against miscreants in the port city, they would not allow extrajudicial killings and targeting of innocent people. He expressed concern over the fast-deteriorating law and order situation in the city and said now they were also facing the issue of missing persons in Karachi.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, on a point of order, grilled the government for its decision to privatise Pakistan Steel Mills and made it loud and clear that their party would resist the privatisation of this national institution.

He demanded the government pay the pending three-month salaries of Pak Steel Mills workers and refrain from rendering thousands of employees jobless.

Later, the opposition parties, led by PPP, once again staged a walkout to protest the government’s privatisation policy. PML-Q chief Ch Shujaat Hussain also supported the PPP move and left the house along with his party MPs.

On a point of order, Aitzaz asked the chair to provide details to them about the ministers’ attendance schedule in the Upper House so that they could prepare for the matters concerning the respective ministers on the dates of their presence in the House.

Chairman Bokhari talked to Raja Zafarul Haq in this connection, who said he would come up with formal response in a day or so.

Taking the floor of the house, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar made an impassioned plea to revisit the procedure for the appointment of judges in the superior courts, warning that failure to do so would result in “a judiciary of the judges, for the judges and by the judges.”

“The chief glory of such a judiciary will lie not in diversity of legal opinion so necessary for developing a body of jurisprudence, as it will become a regimented structure,” he remarked. Later, the House was adjourned to meet again today (Tuesday) at 10:30am.

At the outset of the proceedings, fateha was offered for those who had lost their lives in the Balochistan earthquake and terrorist attacks in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa. JUI-F central leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri led the fateha.

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chairman Haji Muhammad Adeel on Monday presented a report about visits of delegations from China and Poland to the Senate.