The abrupt prorogation of Senate and National Assembly sessions on Wednesday ostensibly to enable the government to promulgate an ordinance regarding local government elections surprised members as well as journalists covering the proceedings of the two houses.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi read out the prorogation order from President Mamnoon Hussain to the surprise of the MNAs on the very first day of a new session.
Similarly in the Senate, Chairman Nayyar Bokhari read out the prorogation order soon after all agenda items were dealt with, without giving outgoing senators an opportunity to express their sentiments as per the decision of the Business Advisory Committee last week.
President recalls Senate to meet again on Friday morning; NA meets for only one day before prorogation
Interestingly, within a few hours of the prorogation, President Mamnoon Hussain summoned the Senate to meet again on Friday morning at 11am.
When contacted, an official of the National Assembly Secretariat, however, claimed that the assembly had been convened only for one day to ensure the presence of all MNAs in the capital so that they could take part in the Senate elections on Thursday.
Talking to Dawn, PPP Senator Fahatullah Babar said there was a general impression that the prorogation of the house was necessitated by the government’s decision to promulgate an ordinance for the local bodies elections.
Terming it a “hasty and thoughtless decision”, Mr Babar said if at all it was necessary in the light of the court’s verdict, the government could have brought proper legislation before the parliament, instead of doing it through an ordinance, which only had a life of 120 days.
When contacted, Law Minister Pervaiz Rashid claimed that the session had been prorogued on “some technical grounds, perhaps because of the Senate elections”.
When asked why the session had been prorogued and not adjourned, he said the Senate chairman would be in a better position to answer that question, without realising that the chairman had no powers to prorogue the house on his own as orders to this effect could come only from the president.
When asked about the possibilities of the promulgation of any ordinance on Wednesday or Thursday, the minister said that he could not say anything as he was in Lahore in connection with the election campaign for the Senate elections.
Earlier, during Question Hour, Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari deferred again a question relating to the details of pension, allowance and other fringe benefits to retired judges of the apex courts due to the absence of the attorney general.
Law Minister Pervaiz Rashid informed the chairman that the attorney general was busy with the hearing of the local government elections case at the Supreme Court. He requested the chair to defer the question since the AG would not be able to attend proceedings because the court was expected to take up the matter relating to LB elections late at night.
In response to a question by MQM’s Tahir Mashhadi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told the house that there were approximately 1,500 Pakistanis imprisoned in different jails in the UAE on various minor and major charges, such as illegal stay, theft, robbery, fraud, murder and drugrelated crimes.
Mr Aziz said the embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai had separate community welfare wings, which catered to the problems faced by the Pakistani community in the UAE. The two community welfare attaches keep a constant liaison with prison authorities in the UAE. Between 2010 and 2012, embassy officials made around 150 visits to the jails to ensure the wellbeing of Pakistanis incarcerated there. He said that they had issued 6,958 emergency passports in 2010, 5,363 in 2011 and 7,287 in 2012.
To another question, Mr Aziz told the house in a written reply that during 201012, a total of 112 Pakistani prisoners were awarded various punishments, including the death sentence.
“The information gathered during the jail visits shows, 11 Pakistani prisoners are awaiting capital punishment on drug trafficking charges and one for robbery,” he said.
Similarly, responding to a similar question asked by Saifullah Magsi, Mr Aziz disclosed that as per the lists handed over by the Indian side on July 1, 2014, there were 380 Pakistani prisoners (264 civilians + 116 fishermen) detained in Indian jails.
At present, the adviser said there were 38 Pakistanis under detention in the consular jurisdiction of Washington in the US. “The main charges against them include drug possession, assault, fraud/forgery, money laundering, driving under the influence of alcohol, immigration violations and shoplifting,” he said.