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ISLAMABAD: In an unusual move, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Interior has taken ‘serious notice’ of a column, critical of Parliament’s performance, published in a leading Urdu-language daily, last month — and has summoned the columnist who wrote it.

The committee met under the chair of Khurram Shahzad Nawaz from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday.

In the meeting, the committee took up the column published in the said national daily on the last month’s 29th and decided to summon the columnist in the next meeting.

A PTI lawmaker, requesting anonymity, defended the committee’s decision, saying the panel was empowered to summon any person having a “special interest in relation to any matter” under Rule 227 (3) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007.

The legislator; however, admitted that the decision was bound to raise eyebrows - as Parliament or its committees lacked powers to initiate any action against a private person or a non-government official.

Rule 102 (3) Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007 reads, “…….and any matter requiring action against government functionary shall be referred to the concerned division or ministry to take action. Compliance report shall be submitted to the assembly within the specified period.”

The said rules do not lay down any mechanism or provision for action against any non-government official.

Meanwhile, the NA Standing Committee on Interior constituted a subcommittee to examine The Pakistan Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2021, moved by Sabir Qaimkhani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).

In addition, the NA panel passed four government bills: The Frontier Corps (Amendment) Bill 2021, The Pakistan Rangers (Amendment) Bill 2021, The Pakistan Coast Guards (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The North-West Frontier Constabulary (Amendment) Bill.

The committee deferred till next meeting the discussion on another government bill: The Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Bill 2021.

The committee discussed the issue of encroachments on Lehtrar Road in Islamabad and expressed concern over ‘ineffective’ anti-encroachment drive launched by Capital Development Authority (CDA). The committee directed the CDA officials to visit Lehtrar Road and submit report to the committee.

The issues related to allotment in National Assembly Cooperative Housing Society were discussed by the committee. The NA panel directed Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) and CDA to resolve these issues.

Members National Assembly (MNAs) including Sher Akbar Khan, Nafeesa Khattak, Shazain Bugti, Malik Sohail, Rana Shamim, Nadeem Abbas, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Agha Rafiullah, Abdul Qadir Patel among others, as well as, senior government officials from the departments concerned attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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