Embarrassing moments were witnessed in the Senate on Thursday when a squabble over authority between leader of the house and the deputy chair escalated into a full-blooded argument.
At the outset of the proceedings — held to resume a debate on the budget for year 2014-15 — there was disagreement when Saadullah Magsi submitted a privilege motion against Islamabad traffic police, the prime minister’s security and Islamabad police.
Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch immediately referred the motion to the relevant privilege committee for disciplinary action, if required. But Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq protested against the deputy chairman’s move and insisted that he should have been consulted first before referring the matter to the committee. He called the move “a violation of rules and procedures”.
The police officials had picked up his car from the road in front of the parliament lodges’ entrance when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to offer fateha for Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.
According to the motion submitted by Senator Magsi, the police misbehaved with him and did not pay any respect towards his stature as a member of the upper house.
The situation became intense after the chair’s ruling on the matter.
Mushahidullah Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), while protesting against the chair’s behaviour, demanded an apology that was categorically refused by Sabir Baloch, who declared his action within the rules of business.
Baloch said: “I am not bound to consult the government or leader of the house and I have the authority to decide on matters, I would not allow anyone to challenge the integrity of a parliamentarian, come what may.”
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Tahir Mashhadi condemned the action of leader of the house and PML-N senators, saying this sort of disrespect should not be tolerated towards the honorable chair as his or her decisions cannot be challenged.
Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan intervened to defuse the situation and requested both sides to calm down and resolve the matter in respective chambers and not on the floor of the house.
After the dust settled, another privilege motion was submitted in the house regarding PPP leader Taj Haider whose residence in Karachi was raided by some unidentified people who searched the residence thoroughly and kept inquiring about some documents.
Zahid Khan, the Awami National Party’s information secretary, asked the leader of the house to take-up the matter with the prime minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2014.