Senators bicker over Karachi


Members of the Upper House on Monday entered into a lengthy verbal argument over whether public representatives should go to their respective constituencies to help out flood-affected people or continue session of the House amidst doubts from the parliamentarians that the government wanted to escape the debate on the Karachi situation, with a particular reference to Zulfiqar Mirza’s revelations.
Senators belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were of the view that the parliamentarians must reach their respective constituencies at a time when people were really suffering due to floods and the session be prorogued, while parliamentarians from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), National Party and others were of the view that the Senate should continue its session to evolve a policy on how to effectively help the flood affected people.
Senator Suriya Amiruddin of the PPP, however, was of the view that the Senate must continue its session and there was no need to prorogue it.
Members of the PML-N and other parties expressed their doubt over the government’s avoidance of the debate on Karachi and Zulfiqar Mirza’s revelations.
Senators, including Gul Muhammad Lot, Babar Ghauri, Kazim Khan and Sabir Baloch, wanted the session prorogued, while senators Ishaq Dar, Hasil Bazenjo, Syed Javed Ali Shah and Humayun Mandokhel wanted to continue it.
Senator Bizenjo said all over the world, parliament sessions were called in any emergency situation including war or any disaster so that parliament could better devise strategies to overcome the calamities. He suggested that a minister from flood-hit area should be invited in the House to brief the members on the actual situation in that area.
He said if the session would be prorogued, majority of the members will go back to their homes ignoring their responsibility in the present situation, so it was better to continue the session and devise some plan to generate resources for affected population.
Leader of the Opposition Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said the session would continue for a week and after that the senators would visit the flood-hit areas to take part in relief activities.
After a long verbal argument, Senate Deputy Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali said a special committee of the House would on Tuesday meet at the Parliament House to evolve a strategy on fund raising and helping out the flood-hit people and then the House would meet on Thursday after a day’s break.
Meanwhile, the senators unanimously decided to contribute a minimum amount of Rs 25,000 for carrying out flood relief activities in Sindh. Taking part in the debate on floods, Senator Ishaq Dar said a concrete strategy must be devised to mobilise resources for flood-affected people and take immediate steps for resource generation for their relief and rehabilitation. He criticised the government’s response to the recent floods, adding that there was no need to go for charity when the prime minister had a discretionary fund of Rs 29 billion. He said that the status of account established last year for flood relief activities should be checked and if it was functional, details of its assets should be presented in the House. Dar said senators’ donations should be deposited in the same account for flood victims of recent rains.