ISLAMABAD - Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani yesterday observed that the importance of the upper house is undermined in the joint sitting of the parliament because of its low numerical strength and this issue needs to be looked at.

The remarks of the Senate chairman came during the house debate to commemorate the September 15 as the International Democracy Day. However, this observation is significant at a time when the government has summoned the joint sitting of the parliament on next Wednesday to discuss Pakistan's foreign policy regarding India.

Rabbani said that the Senate had no importance in the joint sitting as the upper house had disadvantage there because of the low number of 104 votes against 342 votes of the lower house of the parliament. He was of the view that all the four provinces had equal representation in the Senate, the house of federation, but the federating units had no significance when it come to the joint sitting of the parliament. "We need to look at this concept," he said.

A number of lawmakers taking part in the debate to commemorate the International Day of Democracy paid tributes to the politicians, journalists, members of civil society and Pakistanis belonging to different segments of society who made sacrifices for the revival of democracy in the country, the Senate chairman also suggested that a monument should be established in the capital to honour the sacrifices of those unknown labourers, journalists, political workers and members of the civil society with whose sacrifices this house was established.

JUI-F lawmaker Hafiz Hamdullah, taking part in the debate, said that the democracy did not prevail in UN as the veto power of five countries negated the basic concept of democracy.

PPPP Senator Farhatullah Babar asked the Parliament to consider how to counter the new model of shielding dictators from accountability just by whisking them away to a hospital in Rawaplindi. He pointed towards former military dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf who had got himself admitted in a hospital of Rawalpindi on the day when he had to appear before a special court to face charges of high treason. Babar called for strengthening rule of law and ending the sacred cow syndrome.

"No individual and no institution should be beyond the pale of transparency and accountability," he said. The sacred cow syndrome and the absence of transparency and selective accountability is a great impediment,” he said.

Babar said in the past political parties and judiciary were held responsible for endorsing constitutional deviations. However, under the 2006 Charter of Democracy, the political parties decided never to endorse unconstitutional takeover and subsequently the SC also buried forever the doctrine of necessity and the concept of PCO judges.

"Despite this course correction by political parties and the judiciary, a dictator can escape accountability as witnessed recently in the case of General Musharraf by simply walking into the hospital in Rawalpindi," he said. “Today, therefore, we should also reflect how to prevent this new model of assault on democracy and constitutionalism,” he said.

He said that for the democracy to flourish and people to benefit from it the people of tribal areas and GB should also be given their fundamental rights. It is also critical that power is devolved to grass roots through local governments, which are duly empowered both financially and administratively, he concluded.

PPP Senator Sehar Kamran said if there had been real democracy in the country, investigations of Panama Papers would have been conducted. MQM legislator Tahir Mashhadi said that there was no trickledown effect of democracy in Pakistan. He said that the poor of the country would continue to suffer here unless the true version of democracy would come.

PPP Senator Taj Haider paid tributes to his party leaders and former prime ministers Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto for their sacrifices made for revival of democracy in the country "Democracy and terrorism cannot go side by side," he said adding that they would have to struggle to stop these.

He said the government should remove an atmosphere of confrontation in the country so that third force could not get the opportunity "The transparent election and independence of judiciary were crucial for nurturing a real democracy," he said.