MQM stages walkout in Senate


Express August 05, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Senators affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) staged a walkout on Thursday from the Senate over target killings in Karachi, while members of two key political parties demanded that the violence-wracked city be handed over to the army.

The Awami National Party’s senators took the plea that the measure was a prerequisite to restoring law and order and ensuring the protection of Pakhtuns.

While speaking on the flour at the Senate, ANP’s Haji Adeel, Ilyas Bilour and Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal’s (JUI-F) Azam Swati claimed that the law and order situation in Karachi had gone out of hand.

Both men claimed that the provincial government had failed miserably to bring things under control.

MQM senators staged a walkout from the house in protest against the target killings in Karachi.

Tahir Mashadi of the MQM said that the killers of their slain legislator, Raza Haider, had not been arrested despite Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s firm pledge to do so.

Separately, Law Minister Babar Awan said that the Election Commission could not be reconstituted till the apex court hands down its verdict on the petitions filed against certain provisions of the 18th amendment.

In response to questions in the Senate, Awan said that the voter lists are constantly changed under a process and missing names are included following the filing of appeals with the election tribunal.

Voter lists, according to Awan, will again be prepared at the end of this year to ensure that no one is listed twice or thrice in different places. The Election Commission staff would review the voter lists and remove all the complaints, he added.

The law minister said that three names would be proposed for the post of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the committee would choose one person. Awan claimed that the incumbent CEC had constitutional protection for his post.

Zafar Ali Shah said that since the apex court has not issued a stay order against any article or clause of the 18th amendment, the Election Commission could be restructured. Shah said that the by-elections were illegal as the Election Commission was not reorganised.

Meanwhile, the law ministry informed the Senate that the government hired 13 lawyers besides attorney general against a fee of Rs18.5 million to defend the petitions filed against the 18th amendment in the Supreme Court. However, no payment  under the head of lawyers’ fee has been made.

Among the lawyers who have been hired by the government included opposition leader in the Senate, Wasim Sajjad on Rs5.9 million, Sardar Muhammad Ghazi, Ibrahim Satti, Barrister Baachaa, Chaudhary Mushtaq Masood, Khurshid Ahmad for Rs1 million each, Muhammad Massood Chisti on Rs1.5 million, Chaudhary Nasrullah Warraich on Rs3 million, Salahud-Din Gandapuri on Rs0.7 million, Iftikhar-ul-Haq Khan, Barrister Iftikhar Ahmad Mian on Rs0.5 million, Mumtaz Mustafa on Rs1.2 million and Mehmood Ahmad Sheikh on  Rs0.2 million.

However, the ministry stated that the attorney general is a government employee, so he would not receive any fee. (Additional input from Online)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2010.

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