Opposition lawmakers have accused Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani for "rendering the upper house of parliament virtually dysfunctional" by not summoning Senate session in collusion with the treasury benches.
Apart from mainstream political parties including Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) has also strongly criticised Sanjrani for staying 'oblivious' to the affairs of the Senate.
Speaking to Business Recorder, JI chief Sirajul Haq said the chairman Senate, as the custodian of the house, has the foremost responsibility to run the affairs of the house in a proactive manner through forging parliamentary unity between treasury and opposition benches. "But, unfortunately, the chairman has neither shown any interest in the affairs of the house nor is he ready to act as a bridge between the government and the opposition."
Sanjrani had last summoned the regular session of the Senate on August 29 which concluded on September 3. Since then, the chairman Senate is yet to summon a regular Senate session despite the lapse of 108 days.
Although, Sanjrani summoned 294th session of the Senate on November 5 which concluded on November 15 but this was a requisition session (not a regular session) summoned on the requisition of the joint opposition.
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 'apathy' in dealing with 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 "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," he said.
"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 our opposition has the 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 Senate days," the statement concluded.
Following serious differences with the chairman Senate, the joint opposition had moved a no-confidence motion against Sanjrani on August 1this year but it was unsuccessful.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2019