Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani's alleged apathy in summoning a regular session of the Senate despite lapse of more than 100 days has drawn the ire of major opposition forces including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which have termed this move as unprecedented in the history of the Upper House of the Parliament.
Sanjrani had last summoned the regular session of the Senate on August 29 which concluded on September 3. Since then the chairman Senate has not summoned a regular Senate session.
Although Sanjrani summoned 294th session of the Senate on November 5 which concluded on November 15, yet this was a requisition session (not a regular session) summoned on the requisition of the joint opposition.
"The Senate of Pakistan has not met for 108 days in any formal full session. This is an unprecedented gap in the history of Pakistan's Upper House, which represents in equal measure the interests of the federation.
The only session the Senate has had in so many days was on a requisition placed by the joint opposition, and in that too, no government business or resolution or instrument of the Senate was allowed on the agenda," said PPP's Vice President and Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman in a statement. "As per Article 61 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the Senate is required to meet for not less than 110 days in a parliamentary year.
The procedure to call such sessions as per a calendar issued by the Secretariat is entirely the government's responsibility and duty. Right now the lapse in sessions is so great that the government is already setting new precedents for being in violation of the Constitution," she added.
"Several crises have hit Pakistan in these 108 days but the government as part of a deliberate strategy has decided to paralyse Parliament, particularly the Senate where it fears opposition's majority, as it tries to misrule the country by ordinances," her statement said.
"This not only creates disconnect between Pakistan's Parliament and its inherent right to speak, vote and act on public interest issues but also creates a dangerous void in the constitutional requirement of the Senate days."
"The government, having abandoned the Parliament, is passing one ordinance after the other as it continues doing politics of exclusion. Since having arrived, it has passed 24 ordinances. With multiple crises all over the country, including serious ones on economic, constitutional and foreign policy, Pakistan's Parliament is being reduced to zero."
With the LoC (Line of Control) heating up and Kashmir now in its 135th day of curfew, along with the diplomatic blunders by the incumbent government, it is high time that the government calls the Senate for a full session to both brief and consult with Parliament to avoid further polarisation and instability in Pakistan," Rehman said. Leader of the Opposition in Senate and Chairman PML-N Raja Zafar-ul-Haq slammed the role of the treasury benches and chairman Senate for their 'apathy' in dealing with the legislative business.
"The role of the government is in front of all of us. It is not serious at all in parliamentary business. That is why it is relying on presidential ordinances instead of parliamentary legislation. We strongly oppose this practice and will continue to resist it," he told Business Recorder.
Haq said the chairman Senate's apathy in running the affairs of Senate is evident from the fact that he summoned the last (294th) session of the Senate on November 5, and that too, on a requisition moved by opposition, more than two months after the 293rd session was prorogued on September 3. "The chairman has the foremost responsibility on his shoulder, to play his proactive role in forging parliamentary unity between the treasury and opposition benches for effective parliamentary legislation. But he is nowhere to be seen."
Pointing to the fact that the chairman Senate summoned the last regular session (not requisition session) of the Senate on August 29, Haq said, "It is a crying shame that the most respected and coveted legislative house of Pakistan has been rendered dysfunctional due to the absolute disinterest of chairman Senate. The treasury benches are to be equally held responsible for this situation. We strongly condemn this practice and would foil every move aim at compromising the dignity of the Parliament."