Dar questions PM’s statement, Awan says nothing wrong

Asim Awan May 12, 2010

ISLAMABAD: In Tuesday’s session of the Senate, parliamentary leader of the PML-N, Senator Ishaq Dar, criticised Prime Minister Gilani’s Monday over statement that the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court would be appointed from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The PM had stated this in the National Assembly. Dar said that under the 18th Constitutional Amendment it was the job of the Judicial Commission to make appointments to the Islamabad High Court. He asked how the Prime Minister could take a decision on what area or province the judges and the Chief Justice would come from. This tune was followed by the ruling party too.

Leader of the House in the Senate and senior PPP leader Senator Nayyar Bokhari, who belongs to Islamabad, also criticized the PM when he said it was unfair to appoint judges in the Islamabad High Court from the four provinces “when the Islamabad territory is not given a job quota in the provinces.”

He was of the view that the judges of the new High Court should come from Islamabad itself. Federal Law Minister Babar Awan in his reply said that though the Supreme Court had struck the IHC down as part of unconstitutional orders of General Musharraf, it was again provided for in the 18th amendment. Awan said the National Assembly had passed the bill providing for the establishment of the Islamabad High Court and the Bill states that the judges would be from all four provinces, Islamabad and Fata.

He said under the Musharraf’s Ordinance, there was no such provision. He rhetorically asked why must all judges come from just one province. He said it was also it was the right of the smaller provinces to be adequately represented in the higher judiciary. The law minister declared that there had been no violation of the 18th amendment by the government and the judicial commission would appoint the judges.

Also, during the proceedings, various points of orders were raised. Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidari of the JUI-F lashed out at the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that if the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cannot be made another province then it should be given a job quota on the model of the Sindh province where there is a quota for urban and rural areas. Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan of the PML-Q said under the 18th amendment the annual report of the Auditor General would be presented before the Senate but, he wondered, what would the upper house make of it when it does not have a Public Accounts Committee ( PAC ).

He demanded that the Senate, like the National Assembly, should also have a PAC. Senator Raza Rabbani replied that the issue had been discussed in the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms ( PCCR ) and it was suggested that the National Assembly’s PAC should also include senators but consensus on this proposal could not be achieved . The senators also discussed the main agenda item which was President Zardari’s April 5 address to the joint sitting of parliament. Senator Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch of BNP said the government policies had failed. He claimed that Balochistan has become a “ black hole of corruption “.

He said he had told President Zardari that “no matter how much money was given to Balochistan it would end up in the black hole of corruption.” He also alleged that the number of missing persons in Balochistan has increased in the province under the current government. Senator Salim Saifullah of the PML-Q said that government jobs and transfers of officials were “on sale.” Saifullah also demanded a new population census since the last census was conducted in 1998. He also demanded that local government elections should be held.

He said the bureaucrats do not want local government elections because they want to keep all powers to themselves. The Senate session will resume on Wednesday afternoon.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 12th, 2010.

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