In a landmark development in the parliamentary history of country, Senate on Thursday moved a motion, seeking amendments for giving representation to members of Upper House of Parliament in National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) the top parliamentary watchdog.
The motion was moved by leader of the house in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq for amendment in the rules, after a policy statement by Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar who announced that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had agreed to the inclusion of Senate members in PAC.
Senate passed the necessary amendments in its rules in order to give effect to the change which will be finalised once corresponding amendment is made by National Assembly in its Rules in the coming session scheduled for August 01.
Dar stated that six members of Senate one each from four provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) will be included in the PAC.
He said that it would ensure representation to all areas/regions in the Senate, the house of the federation, adding the treasury and opposition in Senate will have an equal share of three members each.
He suggested that the Chairman Senate will select the six members in consultation with parliamentary leaders of all political parties, keeping in view the proportionate strength of political parties in the house and the House will elect such six members through due process as per Rules of Business and Procedure of Senate.
He further proposed that the Rules of Business of Senate as well as National Assembly will be amended to reflect the new arrangement.
Senator Dar recalled that the proposal for representation of Senate in PAC has been under debate since last year, adding the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has decided to honour the proposal of the Senate for inclusion of its members in the PAC.
Showering praise on chairman Senate Raza Rabbani, who had been pressing for giving representation to Senate in PAC or formation of another body of the upper house, said that it was one of the most difficult assignments he had to resolve.
Raja Zafarul Haq, leader of the house in Senate, said a complicated and a long-standing demand of Senators is finally resolved without any ‘battle’ that would help in bringing both the houses of parliament closer.
Raza Rabbani declared that without the support of Prime Minister, Ishaq Dar, leaders of the house and opposition in Senate, the law minister, and all other senators, this milestone could not have been achieved.
He said the gigantic task of giving representation to Senate in PAC was due to historic Charter of Democracy (CoD) by PPP and PML-N which laid the foundations for devolution of power.
He said the main point of CoD was resolving the issues through dialogue which, according to him, is bearing fruit today in the shape of inclusion of Senate in PAC of National Assembly with consensus.
“It would not be incorrect if I may say that today is a victory and vindication that essence of democracy is dialogue and only dialogue and it’s due to dialogue we covered half the journey through this amendment,” he added.
He further said that today is a day of constitutionalism; federalism and strengthening of democratic system. He called upon the law minister to work on a similar pattern to include members from both the houses in Special Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Parliamentary Committee on Law.
Senator Colonel Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi (Retd) termed it a landmark move, which he said could not have been possible without a chairman like Raza Rabbani, and an “active and outstanding senator” like Ishaq Dar.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said today is a ‘red-letter’ day for Senate of Pakistan as it achieved a milestone under the leadership of Rabbani along with fellow Senator Ishaq Dar.
“Senate could not play a meaningful role for long as a true elected represented body of the people, and today you’ve transformed it into a vibrant and a meaningful house,” he added.
Senator Usman Khan Kakar of PkMAP said that it was due to untiring efforts of Senate chairman to restore the prestige of the house and changed it from a debating club to upper house of parliament in a true sense.
Senator Sherry Rehman also could not help in showering praise on Ishaq Dar, saying it could not have been possible without having an ‘energetic and active’ Finance Minister like Ishaq Dar.
She proposed that Parliamentary Special Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Parliamentary Committee on National Security also need to be revived, as “both the committees have gone defunct”.
Senator Rehman Malik questioned why a Senator could not be elected Prime Minister if he does not need to become member of National Assembly for becoming a Finance Minister, or an Interior Minister.
Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, the opposition leader in Senate, was not seen in the house when Ishaq Dar was making a policy statement about inclusion of senators in PAC, which some insiders said, Aitzaz intentionally skipped the session to avoid lauding the efforts of the government for giving representation to Senate in PAC. -Business Recorder