Senate chairman calls in security after uproar

Published: June 20, 2019
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Upper house of parliament. PHOTO: FILE

Upper house of parliament. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The budget discussion in the Senate was once again marred by heated exchanges between members of the treasury and opposition with the Senate chair adjourning Wednesday’s session amidst the uproar.

Similar to proceedings in the Senate on Tuesday, the session on Wednesday witnessed another salvo by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman against Prime Minister Imran Khan over his alleged distortion of Islamic history.

The JUI-F senator took the floor to discuss the budget but instead focused his ire at the premier. The treasury benches took umbrage over the ‘objectionable language’ used for the premier by Rehman and interrupted his speech while demanding of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to withdraw the microphone from the JUI-F leader.

It also resulted in a heated exchange between the groups and ended with Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani calling in security to intervene.

The treasury members also accused senators of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of ‘criminal silence’, adding that the two parties will be held accountable for their culpability.

Taking notice of the protest, the Senate chair expunged the objectionable language used against the PM while instructing Rehman to give up the mic. However, the JUI-F leader disregarded the instructions.

Upon this, Faraz said that every member has the right to address the floor. “We have the courage to listen to criticism but any attempt to spread panic and sow fear and hatred will be dealt with accordingly,” he added.

Such an attempt to create divisions on religious lines will impact everyone, he said, adding that no political party would be permitted to become ‘custodians of religion’. He maintained that the JUI-F senator was exhibiting divisive tendencies with the aim to spread religious disharmony while asking the chair to not allow the JUI-F senator to continue addressing the floor.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahidullah Khan and Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Moula Bakhsh Chandio maintained the government should have the courage to listen to the criticism of the opposition, while accusing the government of failing to back up its claims with corresponding action.

“The leader of the house should instead demand that [PM] Imran Khan desist from making statements on religion,” said Chandio. He added that the government must be able to withstand criticism from the opposition instead and realize its responsibility if it wants to maintain order in the house.

“We must maintain the norms of democracy at all costs,” he said.
In line with the demand of the opposition, the Senate chair returned the mic to Maulana Rehman, who once again launched a tirade against the premier.

This resulted in another confrontation, with PTI’s Noman Wazeer Khattak approaching the opposition benches. PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani’s attempt to intervene resulted in a scuffle which had the makings of a brawl.

Security was summoned with a visibly angry Senator Rehman warning the government not to test their patience and warning it of serious consequences.

In light of the rowdy atmosphere, the chairman adjourned the session until 4pm Thursday (today).

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