Lack of quorum and protest in Senate on Friday rendered its session lacklustre and prompted the chair to wrap it up without taking up any substantial agenda.
The upper house met under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Saleem.
During the brief sitting, the issue of the government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came under heated discussion, with both sides trading barbs.
The government had a day earlier bulldozed its State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 and supplementary finance bill through the National Assembly amid fierce resistance from the opposition parties.
Lashing out at the government on Friday, the Leader of the Opposition Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said the government was increasing electricity tariffs under the terms agreed with the IMF.
“The people are being forced to take to protest every month,” he said, regretting that despite the opposition’s vehement opposition to the mini budget, the government went on to bulldoze the legislation through the National Assembly.
Dr Shehzad Waseem, Leader of the House in the Senate, in response to the objections raised by Mr Gilani, explained that the government got the mini-budget approved because it had a majority. “We passed the bill into law through legislation and in a parliamentary democracy legislation is done in a parliamentary manner.”
He stressed that laws enacted by a parliamentary democracy ought to be accepted and respected by all, urging the opposition to respect the parliament’s sanctity.
Waseem noted it was ironic that those who were now putting the blame squarely on the incumbent government for approaching IMF had themselves gone to the Fund seventeen times.
He said the previous governments are responsible for the problems faced by the masses today.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Mushtaq Ahmed said increasing electricity prices under the IMF terms was galvanising bitter sentiments among common people who were now being compelled to protest against this “cruelty”.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said it is the responsibility of the elected representatives to strengthen and ensure the sanctity of the parliament.
He regretted that the opposition had “undermined the sanctity of the parliament” by attacking the bill in an unseemly manner. “If you do not intend to not listen, you can walk out.”
The opposition walked out of the house on Ali Mohammad Khan's remarks before pointing out the quorum.
The chair adjourned the proceeding till Monday 3pm.
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