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Senate notifies all standing committees after rare govt, opposition amity

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ISLAMABAD: In a rare display of harmony between the government and opposition, all 42 Senate standing committees have been notified within the stipulated period.

This was unlike in the National Assembly — which held its first session 40 days before the upper house — where the process of notifying standing committees has been stalled.

On Monday, notifications regarding all 42 bodies were issued after the house unanimously adopted a motion to form standing and functional committees.

Under Rule 174 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, standing committees are to be formed within two months of the election of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.

Senator Sherry Rehman moved the motion on Monday — the last day of the two-month deadlines — which was adopted by the house.

Opposition Leader Shibli Faraz, who belongs to PTI, said the committees have been formed in a “principled and transparent” manner due to the acumen of the members.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar assured full cooperation of the treasury side and suggested immediate elections to pick chairpersons for standing committees on finance and planning and development.

‘CDA raid’ on Shibli’s home

While raising a point of public concern, PTI’s Senator Saifullah Abro said Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials arrived at Mr Faraz’s house on Monday with heavy machinery “to demolish some parts of the residence” located in an upscale neighbourhood.

He claimed the officials harassed the PTI leader’s family and children at the residence. “If the house of the opposition leader is not safe, then what kind of protection is available for a common man,” Mr Abro questioned.

He said the opposition leader’s privilege has been breached and demanded action against the officials.

Mr Abro also requested the chairman to refer the matter to the house privileges committee for an investigation where all the officials should be summoned and held accountable.

Law Minister Tarar called the event “painful” and said he would seek a report from the interior secretary and Islamabad chief commissioner.

The report would be presented before the house today (Tuesday), the minister added.

He said that action would be taken if officials were found to have overstepped the law.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also said the report should be presented before the house to explain if CDA’s action was part of any anti-encroachment drive or if there were some other reasons behind it.

Mr Faraz, the opposition leader, said such incidents “would not shake their courage” as his party was passing through tough times.

He assured that there was no illegality in the construction of his house and that the report “would endorse his stance”.

In response to a motion moved by Dr Zarqa Suharwardy to discuss the effects of climate change, Law Minister Tarar said despite limited resources, the federal government was taking steps to cope with the challenge of climate change.

He said a pilot project, at the cost of $57 million, was being initiated under ‘Recharge Pakistan’ to utilise the floodwater for harvesting.

Bill for South Punjab province

Nine private member bills were also introduced on Monday, along with one to amend the Constitution for the creation of South Punjab province.

The bill, presented by PTI Senator Aon Abbas, called for amendment in articles 1,51,59,106,154,175A,198 and 218 of the Constitution to create a new province.

Law Minister Tarar said PTI was politicising the issue of South Punjab province as it didn’t make the move while being in power in Centre and Punjab for three and a half years.

Senate Chairman Syed Yusaf Raza Gillani referred all bills to the standing committees for detailed deliberation after they were not opposed by the law minister.

Later, the house was adjourned to meet again today (Tuesday) after the quorum was pointed out, and the House was not found to be not in order after a count.