ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Friday observed that all institutions should function within their domains ascribed under the Constitution, which provides for trichotomy of power as any transgression in this regard would derail the democratic process.
“Among others, one key function of parliament is to have an oversight of the executive branch in order to provide it with proper policy guidelines,” said Rabbani when a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator drew attention of the House that September 15 was observed as ‘International Day of Democracy’.
“The government should learn from its past mistakes and empower parliament so that it can play its due role to create conducive environment for democracy to flourish,” the Senate chairman added.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, who broached the subject, called for deeper reflection on new emerging threats to democracy and containing them.
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“The direct assault on democracy and outright abrogation of the Constitution has given way to the use of instruments like the doctrine of necessity, Legal Framework Order, Provisional Constitutional Order and suspension of the Constitution to undermine democratic institutions,” he said, adding that a totally new form of threat had now reared its ugly head.
“This new threat is the backseat driving syndrome of exercising power without responsibility and accountability,” he said.
Senator Javed Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was of the view that “if democracy delivers dividends, masses will become its guardians”.
He regretted that none of the mainstream political parties was ready for the local government elections which were held only due to the pressure from the apex court. Even after the local polls, the provincial governments did not devolve the powers to the local bodies, rendering them powerless and resourceless, he added.
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Furthermore, the House was scheduled to be briefed by new Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal regarding a recent interview by his predecessor, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who had claimed that there was a potent existential threat to the country which only four persons – him, former prime minister and two senior armed forces officials – knew about. Nisar had purportedly claimed that even the incumbent Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was not aware of this threat.
The Senate chairman announced that the minister would brief the Senate about it on Tuesday, without explaining reasons for the delay.
Senator Babar, meanwhile, drew the House’s attention towards the expulsion of doctors sans borders from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and demanded reversal of the decision.
He said that Fata had already been turned into a black hole and closed to visitors. Even the human rights committee had been discouraged from visiting the area on one pretext or the other, he added.
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The team of doctors without borders working in tribal areas comprised Pakistani doctors engaged in purely humanitarian work, he said, adding that if any member of the organisation was found guilty of wrongdoing, he or she should have been investigated, charged and prosecuted under the law.
But expelling the entire team without cogent reasons and without a word about charges levelled against them “reinforces the perception that the state wishes to keep the area as a black hole for some undisclosed reasons”, he added.
At a time when the world community was deeply concerned about the cross-border movement of militants between Pakistan and Afghanistan and openly accused Pakistan of it, Babar said, “the reinforcement of such perceptions will undermine our efforts and increase our difficulties.”
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