Just about everyone in the opposition walked out of Senate on Wednesday, protesting the consistent absence of Interior Minister Rehman Malik so soon after he took his oath.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) and Awami National Party (ANP) senators termed his absence ‘deplorable and disgusting’ on a day when a debate on the law and order situation in Balochistan was on the agenda, despite a notice being served to him in advance.
Only four members showed up at the beginning of the session, although the number rose to 26 later.
Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, taking stern notice of the interior minister’s absence, directed the leader of the house to tell Malik to immediately attend session and suspended proceedings for 15 minutes.
Malik then made a dramatic entrance, submitting that he had been busy with other engagements, after which the debate on Balochistan was formally kicked off by ANP senator Ilyas Bilour.
Bilour demanded practical steps to resolve the Balochistan issue instead of mere acts of contrition which had not worked in the past.
JUI-F senator Hafiz Hamidullah saw a foreign hand behind the urrest, saying “The US wants to use Balochistan as a strategic operational point from where it can control Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan while China (wants to) use the Gwadar port, where it spent billions of dollars, as a trade corridor.”
Hamidullah also held army generals responsible for the deteriorating situation, despite saying earlier in the session that comments against the army at any forum were ‘an act of treason’ and remarks against judges should be taken as contempt of court.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.