The Senate session echoed with demands for protecting men’s rights during its sitting on Monday, as the upper house of parliament discussed increase in electricity tariff and the Broadsheet inquiry commission report.
During the session, chaired by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Accountability Shehzad Akbar presented the report of Broadsheet Inquiry headed by former Supreme Court Judge Azmat Saeed.
Senator Maulana Ataur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) said that the house should discuss the issue of men’s rights, which were being trampled by women. “Women have the rights but who will give rights to men,” he asked. "Men's rights are being violated by women." he added.
Later, the opposition raised the issue of increase in electricity tariff during the tenure of the present government, saying that when electricity became expensive, the prices of all other commodities also rose, causing more difficulties for the people.
Opposition Leader Yousuf Raza Gilani, Kamran Murtaza and other opposition lawmakers said that electricity prices had increased by 200% in the last two years. They added that the country appeared to be under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Communications Minister Murad Saeed responded to opposition’s motion, saying that the government was stuck with power generation contracts made for 30 years, while no attention was made by the previous governments for generating cheap hydel and solar power.
“Who made those agreements? Even payment was made without using the electricity,” the minister said. He told the house that in 2013, Rs460 billion was paid to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) without audit.
The previous governments, according to the minister, went for the most expensive power generation. He also told the house that then chief justice had termed these agreements with the IPPs a noose around the neck of Pakistan.
To mitigate the situation, the minister said that the government had been able to reduce the annual increase in the circular debt, adding that work was continuing on 10 dams, while schools and mosques were being shifted to solar power, which was long-term solution.
Senator Mohsin Aziz moved a motion to discuss the report of the Broadsheet Commission. He said that petty thieves were caught in the country and that the cases of white-collar crimes were on the rise.
Accountability Adviser Shehzad Akbar said that the inquiry report has been presented in the house and the members could read them before holding debate on it. He said that in the past two years, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had recovered Rs484 billion.
Akbar pointed out that Opposition Leader Gilani, also a former prime minister, was disqualified for contempt of court, for not writing a letter to a Swiss court on the instructions of the Supreme Court. He added that by not writing the letter, $72 million loss was incurred to the national exchequer.
The adviser said that there were claims that Justice (retd) Azmat Saeed was controversial. However, he added that if anyone had the objection, the door of the courts were open. He mentioned that sugar inquiry report was also challenged at every forum.
Akbar said that the government formed the commissions under the Inquiry Act 2017. “We formed the commission under this law and have released the report. Later, the session was adjourned till Thursday.