ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate, Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari has said that the previous parliamentary year (2013-14) made a unique importance for being immensely eventful and productive in the parliamentary history of Senate.
He said that the general elections has brought about the historic first-ever transition from one democratically elected government to another with the continuity of the Senate in perpetuating democracy.
Speaking at the launch of annual report on Senate’s performance for the 11th parliamentary year on Friday, he said that Senate emerged as a body having the potential to act as a counter-balance on legislative and parliamentary business with opposition parties in dominance in the Upper House.
The annual report was compiled by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).
“I call it unique for its seminal value in our quest for change, transformation, progress and reformation,” he remarked and said that both the elected leadership as well as the Senate administration strove hard to redefine Senate’s role and performance.
Special attention has been paid to ensure that Senate proceedings, be it House debates, resolutions, questions, points of order, motions, legislation or standing committees working, or other House related interventions reflected public aspirations and sentiments as well as national interest.
He added that a great deal of attention was paid towards deliberating key matters of public and national importance from socio-political issues, terrorism, drone attacks and human rights abuses to dual nationality, missing persons, death penalties, honor killings, and de-weaponization, to name but a few.
Chairman Senate stated that during the 11th parliamentary year of the Senate a significantly large proportion of interventions addressed issues pertaining to economic development and energy crisis during 2013-14.
Besides women, children and minority issues also remained a centre of focus in the House with various bills and resolutions on these issues.
He stated that a comprehensive overhaul and restructuring of Senate Secretariat and its support branches is underway, as part of the new Senate Administration Strategic Plan.
This approach entailed futuristic planning, making bold decisions and complete, but gradual overhaul of the antiquated system, structures and practices.
He appreciated and acknowledged the pivotal role played by the present Senate administration, led by Secretary Senate Amjed Pervez, right from futuristic planning for change and down to the prompt and praiseworthy translation of vision into reality through practical steps.
Nayyer Bokhari observed that this unique multi-stratum roadmap aims to enhance quality, range and scope of parliamentary support services so as to ensure that the House and the Members can exercise their constitutional, legislative, oversight, representation and outreach duties more effectively.
“It comes as a great pride to share that the Senate has cleared almost all of its pending business, both in the house and in the committees during the last parliamentary year,” he said.
Regarding bilateral and inter-parliamentary relations, Chairman Senate remarked that the successful holding of Asian Parliamentary Assembly Conference in Islamabad last December as well as transfer of APA Presidency to Pakistan represent a diplomatic triumph given the current geo-political and security related circumstances prevailing in the region.
He said that establishment of the Senate Think Tank as a Peers’ Group is an important step towards improving Parliamentary Practice, Performance and Perception.
This important institutional facility, which capitalizes upon the immense political sagacity and professional expertise of sitting and former colleagues, aims to provide a broader perspective on issues confronting the Parliament itself and the people whom they represent.
Another path-breaking development pertained to setting up of the Research Databank, comprising more than 100 indicators, and thousands of sub-references, encompassing the economic, social, budget, energy, water, agriculture sectors.
He also informed the participants that establishment of dedicated legislative drafting service is one of under consideration step to provide in-house bill drafting and amendment facility to House, Members and Committees and special focus has been laid on strengthening functioning of standing committee system.
Chairman Senate observed that the core objective is to make the Upper House a true bastion of provincial harmony, national unity, and cohesion, and enable it to play a more effective role as a vibrant legislative, oversight and public representative forum.
This, in turn, would help reinforce democratic process, promoting democracy as a vehicle of change and progress.
The Senate, he said as representative of the Federation in Pakistan, has achieved a lot in terms of promoting transparency by maintaining the most effective website and conducting government oversight through the Standing Committees.
He pointed out that in general, the initiative deserve commendation and support for being a remarkable effort to strengthen democratic institutions. He appreciated TDEA-FAFEN for all the endeavors and hard work that has gone into preparing the report.
Talking on the ocassion Senator Farhat ullah Babar said that peaceful political transition to others was a big achievement and credit goes to democracy. He appreciated the report and suggested that some reforms should be highlighted in it.
The session was also attended by the Senators Afrasiab Khattak,Begum Najma Hameed ,Abdul Haseeb Khan Dr farzana Bari Women rights activist,civil society and large number of students.