Nawaz treatment issue spurs senate walkout

AG letter, Senator Mushahidullah under fire for seeking inquiry into termination of PIA employees


Our Correspondent March 08, 2019
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The opposition staged a walkout in Thursday’s Senate session to protest against the government for not ensuring better medical facilities for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The opposition left the upper house despite Senator Faisal Javed informing the floor that PM Imran Khan had instructed the government of Punjab to ensure best medical facilities for Nawaz.

The opposition parties also strongly reacted to an inquiry against the termination of Pakistan International Airline’s (PIA) employees, and termed Senator Mushahidullah Khan's letter and the actions of the standing committee as contempt of court. The opposition demanded Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to take action in this regard.

On the other hand, the chairman of the standing committee for aviation Mushahidullah Khan said that 65 employees were terminated from the PIA but they were not accorded the right to appeal against the decision. He said that the senate panel is holding an inquiry in this regard.

According to Mushahidullah, Attorney General Anwar Masood in a letter to the standing committee said that it could not carry out an inquiry, while adding that he had not asked the attorney general for his opinion nor was there a need for it.

“If a legal opinion is needed, I will get it from the law division of the Senate.” He said that the chairman should take action and ask for an explanation for the letter written to the committee.

Senator Raza Rabbani said that survival of the federal government is intertwined with the survival of parliament and the parliamentary system. “We should join hands to combat attacks aimed at the parliament,” he said, lamenting that the powers given to parliament under the constitution were not admitted.

“There is a mindset which is depriving us of the due powers. The standing committee of the senate is part of the house. How can the attorney general declare standing committee's action as contempt of court?” he asked.

He said the roles of the committee and the attorney general are clearly stated in the constitution, according to which the attorney general can only give his legal opinion on any matter. “As per the constitution, the attorney general is answerable before the house. The standing committee must decide whether or not an action is being taken as per law,” Rabbani added.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that the letter written by the attorney general should not be misrepresented as a conflict between parliament and the judiciary. The attorney general should be given the chance to make his position clear.

On this, the chairman instructed authorities to write a letter to the attorney general and demand his explanation.

During the break for the question-answer session at the senate, the government presented details against the deficits reported by PIA. In a written reply to the Senate, the aviation division said that the national carrier faced a daily loss of around Rs100 million. The interest for the loans taken by the airline company has exceeded Rs2 billion a month. The biggest expenditures of PIA include fuel and maintenance of airplanes. The leasing costs of the airplanes are also included in overall expenditures.

The Senate was told that the government issued licenses for five airline companies during the past ten years.

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