‘Rashid can be probed by no one else but Senate’

Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani on Friday said that if any inquiry against Pervaiz Rashid, who stepped down in the wake of a controversial story on the national security, were to be held it should be done by Senate. 

Rabbani said the inquiries against judges are carried out by judiciary under Article 209 of the constitution; military goes by the Army Act; Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy follow their own rules and bureaucrats are probed under Estacode.

In light of the set precedents all institutions have their own rules for holding inquiry against their people while investigating an issue, then Pervaiz Rashid, who is a sitting senator, would be probed by ‘no else but Senate of Pakistan’. He said the ethics committee of Senate would look into the matter if needed as it would be the appropriate forum to handle the issue.

“I have no knowledge but have learnt through media reports that an inquiry is to be held against Senator Pervaiz Rashid, the Senate is the only forum to do it,” he contended.

If at all as reported in media, he observed, any probe was to be held against Pervaiz Rashid, it would be in the fitness of things and a manifestation of the fact that all are equal before the law the Senate should do the needful.

He welcomed Pervaiz Rashid in Senate, saying the entire ‘Senate stood by him and he was not alone at all’. Several Senators, including PPP’s Farhatullah Babar and Sirajul Haq of Jamaat-e-Islami went to the seat of the senator, shook hand with him and returned. Rabbani expressed these views after his ruling with regards to a written reply during the proceedings of the requisitioned session.

An official of the Senate who declined to be named told Business Recorder that the issue of Pervaiz Rashid was also briefly discussed during the meeting of Senate house business advisory committee.

Rabbani also wanted to speak to Rashid when he was shown the door as info minister but his cell phone was constantly going switched off. Earlier, in his 11-page ruling with regard to a written reply, referring to Section 33-A of Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962 and Section 9 of Protection of Economic reform Act, 1992 by the National Bank of Pakistan, stating that ‘the names of persons/companies, who have obtained loans from the National Bank is private information of the borrowers and is protected’, Rabbani said that no person, organisation, body, authority or government can refuse to provide information to the Parliament by taking refuge under any rule, regulation or law and that the government (National Bank of Pakistan and Ministry of Finance) has misled the Parliament by merging two provisions of distinct laws to create impression, which was not legally justified.

“This is a deliberate attempt to withhold information from the Parliament, which amounts to a breach of privilege of the House and its member,” he remarked. However, he said that keeping in view the stand taken by the Minister of law and Justice, the National Bank through the Ministry of Finance, the government shall inform the House within ten days of this ruling, regarding the names and action taken against persons/officials of the National Bank and the Ministry of Finance, who drafted and approved the misleading answer for placing it before the Parliament.

He explained that the Constitution placed the Parliament on a different pedestal from that of any organization or body same could be fortified by clause (3) of Article 66, which provided that the impediment to the provision of information could only by the President’s order and not by an act of the Parliament.

“Section 9 of the Protection of Economic reform Act, 1992 and Section 33A of the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962, do not and cannot put any fetters on the powers of the Parliament to seek information in the public interest. Information as to names of borrowers neither amounts to banking transaction nor to the information relating to the affairs of the customers,” he ruled.

Rabbani said, “in this scenario, the question whether any person organization, body, authority or government can refuse to provide information to the Parliament by taking refuge under any rule, regulation or law? Was [this] needed to be adjudicated? After due deliberations and analysis of the legal and faction position based on the relevant rules, judgements of the Supreme Court, High Court, this ruling has been given with the direction to the Senate Secretariat to send the copies of it to minister for finance, minister for law and justice and minister for parliamentary affairs”.

The ruling PML-N Senator Chaudhry Tanvir Khan had sought information regarding the names of persons/ companies, who have obtained loans of Rs 5 million or more from the National Bank during the last five years and the number of cases in which these loans have been repaid or being repaid and those, which have been waived off, the National Bank in its reply referred to rules and said the required information could not be shared.

BNP-Mengal Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldeni had moved a motion in this context, which was supported by Senators Saeedul Hassan, Nauman Wazir, Usman Kakar and Saleem Mandviwala, Taj Haider and Hafiz Hamdullah, who said that no information could be withheld from the Parliament. Opposition Leader Aitzaz Ahsan also had endorsed their viewpoint.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed a unanimous resolution strongly condemning the terrorist attack on the police training center in Quetta. Moved by Leader of Opposition in the House Aitzaz Ahsan, the resolution expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the incident.

The resolution expressed solidarity with the bereaved families and prayed for the eternal peace of the martyred and early recovery of the injured.

The House reiterated the commitment to stand by the peace-loving people of the country and the security forces for complete elimination of terrorism from Pakistan.

The resolution strongly condemned the involvement of foreign countries and agencies in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The House also passed two separate condolence resolutions moved by PPP Senator Taj Haider and Tahir Mashhadi of MQM, expressing deep grief and sorrow over the demise of former senators Syed Qamar-uz-Zaman Shah and Nargis Zaman Kiani.

The House prayed for the eternal peace of the deceased and said that their services would be remembered for a long time. The Senate offered Fateha for those martyred in Quetta incident and other accidents and incidents in the country.

-Business Recorder