ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani remained the centre of the opposition’s criticism and condemnation at the 322nd Senate session that was prorogued on Friday –but the house managed to pass the amended version of the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act 2022 –to make the jurisdiction of this law specific to “qualified investment” of Reko Diq project in Balochistan besides the entire country.
Presented by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by the house amid protest from the opposition over the non-issuance of Azam Swati’s production order by the chairman Senate.
The sitting continued for only less than half an hour—25 minutes precisely—before the session was prorogued.
Earlier on Monday, the Senate and National Assembly passed the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Bill, 2022.
This triggered strong protest by some coalition partners in the federal government, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) in particular, that alleged this law aimed at depriving the people of Balochistan of the natural resources in the province.
The original act’s jurisdiction was extended to the “whole of Pakistan”. In the amended version, its jurisdiction, besides the entire country, is made specific to Reko Diq investment in Balochistan. Barring this amendment, the rest of the contents of the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act 2022 remain unchanged.
This law aims to “attract, encourage, and protect large-scale foreign investments into Pakistan” and to provide for “promotion and protection of certain qualified foreign investments”.
The house also passed a unanimous resolution to felicitate Qatar on hosting the Football World Cup 2022.
Only two bills were passed in the entire 322nd Senate session that started on Monday and concluded on Friday. Sanjrani remained the subject of the opposition’s ire in the entire session for his failure in the issuance of the production order of Azam Swati from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). In the course of house proceedings, Sanjrani repeatedly assured the opposition that he would issue Swati’s production order but adjourned the sitting each time without doing so.
Rule 84 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012 provides that the chairman Senate or chairman of a Senate committee may summon a senator in custody on the charge of any offence or under any law relating to preventive detention to attend a sitting or sittings of the Senate or meeting of a committee of which he/ she is a member if the chair considers their presence necessary.
The house only met thrice in this session—on Monday, Thursday, and Friday—for not more than a few minutes. Monday’s sitting lasted for35 minutes, Thursday’s sitting lasted for only 10 minutes, and Friday’s sitting ended in 25 minutes, despite that a considerable number of senators showed up at each sitting.
In 100-seat house, the present strength of which is 99 members, 72 members attended Monday’s sitting, 59 senators were present in the house on Thursday’s, and 64 senators attended Friday’s sitting.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022