Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani while addressing the house raised questions on the amendments proposed by the government to the country’s accountability law.
He said the government through the amendments had exempted businessmen, bureaucrats, judges and the military from being proceeded against under the law. “Who is then left? Only you and I are left,” he said, addressing the Senate chairman.
“Is the NAB law only there for politicians?” he asked, suggesting that the parliament should be allowed to “try the parliamentarians”.
Otherwise, he said, if the government really wanted to conduct accountability, then “the only path to meaningful accountability is one law, one bureau [and] across-the-board accountability”.
Rabbani said there should be “no holy cows” under a fair accountability law which according to him should apply to the judiciary and military as well as the bureaucracy.
He said the government was not following the Constitution and its actions have rendered the parliament ineffective.
Speaking about the issue of extension in the service of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, which underwent strict scrutiny in the Supreme Court in November, Rabbani said the PTI government due to its “incapability and incapacity” had landed a national institution (army) into an “embarrassing position”.
“What kind of a government is this which cannot issue three or four notifications?” he said, urging the government to let the parliament and the Senate play their constitutional roles.
‘Senate kept in the dark’
At the outset of the session, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq regretted that the government had called the Senate session only after the opposition submitted a requisition.
He said the upper house had been “kept in the dark” regarding the promulgation of the NAB ordinance. He alleged that the accountability process is being carried out in a “unilateral, oppressive and illegal manner” in the country.
Haq said the opposition had submitted the agenda for the Senate session but a “negative mindset” prevented it from being included in the scheduled of proceedings.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said they had found out through newspapers that a Senate session had been called for today. She said some members were unable to attend because of the prevailing smog.
She said ministers were not present in the house even though the session had been called after such a long gap. In addition, questions and answers were not made part of the agenda “which means that the government was not prepared”, she alleged.
Rehman lambasted the government for promulgating 25 presidential ordinances last year, saying: “The parliament cannot be run from Bani Gala or Aiwan-e-Sadr.”
She said the government had failed to issue a proper notification regarding the army chief’s tenure extension and has now filed a review petition against the Supreme Court judgement on the issue. “What does the government going into review indicate?” she asked.
The PPP leader also criticised the government for “doing nothing but giving a speech” regarding the issue of occupied Kashmir. She questioned why the foreign minister was not coming to the parliament to brief the lawmakers on the latest situation in the region.