The Senate unanimously adopted eight amendments in the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012, including the formation of a permanent committee to oversee the devolution process under the 18th constitutional amendment.
Moved by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq, the Senate made amendments in rules 9, 79, 158, 166, 182 and 277 and inserted new rules, 162A and 262A.
The newly formed permanent committee on devolution shall review the implementation of the devolution scheme, as envisaged in the Constitution, identify and make remedial recommendations where the Constitution (18th Amendment) Act, 2010 has been deviated from, circumvented or not implemented.
The committee will also identify and make recommendations to such aspects of the implementation plan/process which due to administrative or lack of law or for any other reasons is facing or likely to face difficulty in its implementation.
It will also, “on regular basis, seek the review of the federal government, provincial governments and or any division, department, autonomous or semi-autonomous body/bodies related with or pertaining to the process of implementation of the Constitution (18th Amendment) Act, 2010 to evaluate and oversee the implementation status of the Act 2010.”
According to an insertion in Rule 262A, the Senate’s secretary may, “when asked to do so by the chairman or the presiding officer or in the absence of the chairman or the presiding officer, if required under the circumstances,” make announcement in the house.
The house also passed an amendment in Rule 9 under which the outgoing Senate chairman will preside over the first meeting of the house after the elections. Currently, the president has the powers to nominate any member of the house to preside over the first sitting after the Senate elections and to conduct the election of the new chairman.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali told the house that there were over 18,000 tube wells in Balochistan, using illegal electricity connections. He said out of total amount payable by the province to Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Rs92 billion accounted for the subsidy that the province gave to farmers.
The minister confessed that there was law and order situation in the province and that his ministry was unable to collect electricity bills. “Three Wapda officials have been murdered in Pasni the other day,” he added.
Talking with reference to lowering water level in Balochistan, Ali said the federal government was ready to assist the provincial government with any project it wanted on the subject.
Earlier, senators from Balochistan said the lowering level of groundwater was an issue more serious than insurgency and terrorism and urged the federal government to do something. They said the provincial government did not have the capacity to deal with the issue. They also said the province was not receiving its share of water as agreed under the Indus Water Accord of 1991.
The house also passed a resolution, moved by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Lt General (retd) Abdul Qayyum, showing serious concerns ‘over involvement of foreign intelligence agencies [including India’s RAW] in fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.
After the passage of resolution, Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan censured the government as there was no minister attending the session. Ahsan said the interior minister or state minister should be present to take the house into confidence on the issue.
He also asked the chairman to take strict action against the ministers.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.