The Senate passed the first-ever draft of the code of conduct as well as rules for the committee on ethics on Thursday, but only three members resisted the move, saying that its misuse can tarnish the image of a neat and clean politician.
Following stiff opposition from the three members, Chairman Raza Rabbani went for voting over the move and clarified that it was not his initiative alone, ensuring that the rules would be formally amended after the passage of the bill.
Maulana Attaur Rehman and Hafiz Hamdullah from JUI-F and Nihal Hashmi from the ruling PML-N opposed the constitution of committee on ethics , saying the move would open floodgates of allegations against every single member who would have nowhere to hide with the overactive media giving its verdict before the trial.
The JUI-F leaders, in particular, mentioned Article 62 and 63 of the constitution to substantiate their point, saying there was no need for the code of conduct.
Maulana Attaur Rehman said, “what if someone comes and alleges that Attaur Rehman drinks… the committee would investigate but the media would announce its punishment then and there.”
Nehal Hashmi of the PML-N also expressed his indignation over the move. “What would happen if people like Jamshed Dasti come with complaints… would we have to go for DNA tests?,” questioned Nihal Hashmi.
In contrast, Mushahid Hussain Syed from the PML-Q supported the move, saying “democracy would not be strengthened by Article 6 but through our [politicians] conduct as MPs have to be role model for the masses.”
According to details, any citizen may file a complaint to the committee for breach of the code of conduct by the member and after the investigations, the committee may recommend “censure, reprimand, or suspension from the house for a specific period.”
Meanwhile, Senate Chairman allowed a discussion over US President Barak Obama’s State of the Union address where he mentioned the name of Pakistan in the context of terrorism and extremism.
Rabbani gave a ruling to justify the permission and asked the Foreign Ministry to respond during a two-hour discussion on Monday.
Minister of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Pervaiz Rashid told the Senate that incidents of corruption had decreased in the country over the last year.
Quoting from a report of Transparency International that was released last year, he said that the position of Pakistan that earlier stood 126, had dropped down to 127 on the corresponding index.
The minister referred to a discussion in a Senate session last year, where Senate Chairman had directed to provide the details of the amount of money National Accountability Bureau (NAB) recovered through voluntary return and plea-bargain for the period asked by the senator.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2016.