Miffed over PM’s speech, senators stage walkout

Members say Gilani undermined the Senate by addressing NA session first.

Qamar Zaman May 10, 2011


A walkout was staged in the Senate on Monday by members miffed by the prime minister’s choice to address the National Assembly on the Abbottabad operation before the Senate.

This is the second consecutive protest staged by senators during the ongoing session.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Maulana Ghafoor Haideri, who was the only Senator to call Osama bin Laden a “martyr”, took the lead in convincing lawmakers to protest, saying “the prime minister has undermined the Senate by not taking the house into confidence.”

Haideri’s provocation was hailed by the opposition and some coalition partners, including Senator Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party, who went a step ahead and urged members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party to join them.

Earlier, the house decided to skip 25 items on the agenda and preferred to discuss a statement of Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan on the US operation in Abbottabad.

But absence of ministers prompted lawmakers to express dissatisfaction. “Who would respond to our queries?” questioned Senator Khan while Leader of the House Nayyar Hussain Bokhari was the sole listener.

Resuming the debate, lawmakers with different political affiliations collectively urged the government to revisit its Afghan policy. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Zafar Ali Shah demanded the resignations of the president, prime minister, army chief and chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Senator Ali Shah expressed bewilderment over the foreign visits of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani immediately after the Abbottabad operation. He alleged that the rulers were taking dictation from US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2011.


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