Members of the Senate cast aside on Friday their party loyalties and political biases – at least for a day as they voiced outrage over the deadly bomb attack on the ANP’s rally in Quetta.
The Senate session started about 40 minutes late. After the question-hour, lawmakers from the Awami National Party (ANP) didn’t allow Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari to conduct the proceedings in accordance with the order of the day.
Senator Daud Achakzai, who represents the ANP in Balochistan, was the first to condemn the attack on the public rally. He called upon the chairman to direct the interior ministry to investigate the matter.
Another ANP Senator, Zahid Khan, said his party’s supporters were being targeted everywhere in the country even though the party has been leading the nation’s efforts against militancy and terrorism. Soon afterwards, Zahid Khan led the ANP lawmakers in a walkout from the house.
PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar also boycotted the proceedings to express solidarity with the ANP.
But before walking out of the house, Senator Dar spoke about Thursday’s killing of police cadets from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Lahore.
He sought to shift the blame, saying that the police training centre where the cadets were killed was run by the federal government and not the Punjab government.
“The head of the centre, a Pashtun himself, had repeatedly requested the interior ministry for adequate security, but to no avail,” Senator Dar said. “A joint investigation team has been formed to probe the incident.”
Tahir Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also joined the chorus and denounced the bomb attack on the rally.
He said his party would join hands with the opposition and other parties protesting terrorist attacks in the country. Later the MQM senators also staged a walkout.
Maulana Ghafoor Haidri from the JUI-F also condemned the bombing outside the ANP’s rally and offered prayers for the victims. However, he described the surge in violence as part of a larger conspiracy to sow discord among political and ethnic groups.
“The surge in violence might be in retaliation for the reopening of the Nato transit routes,” said the Maulana, citing the timing of the recent attacks.
Senator Hidayatullah, who represents the tribal areas in the house, raised the issue of rising violence in Bajaur Agency and US drone strikes in other tribal regions.
The government, according to him, is responsible for both the violence and the ‘collateral damage’ in drone strikes.
Minister of State for Interior Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, however, called upon senators to unite against terrorism instead of staging walkouts from the house. “Walkouts and boycotts will not solve the problem,” he added. ANP lawmakers in the National Assembly also boycotted the house proceedings in protest against the Quetta rally bombing.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.
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