‘Hidden forces out to disrupt Senate polls, derail democracy’

* Members claim motive behind such a 'harsh' verdict against Nawaz Sharif was to pave way for installation of a technocrat government in country

ISLAMABAD: A day after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, legislators in the Upper House of Parliament on Thursday expressed serious reservations and were of the view that some ‘hidden forces’ were behind the decision who wanted to create hurdles in the smooth holding of the upcoming Senate elections.

The senators claimed that the motive behind such a ‘harsh’ decision by the apex court was to pave the way for installation of a technocrat government in the country. Some of the senators also stressed the need for establishment of a ‘constitutional court’ in the country to hear the cases of political nature.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that although Nawaz Sharif was largely responsible for the situation that emerged after the SC verdict on Wednesday, he could not applaud the verdict as a triumph for anyone and as a member of parliament he could not rejoice over it. “Wednesday’s verdict has enlarged the scope of articles 62 & 63 on the one hand and weakened the parliament on the other by striking down a law passed by it,” he said. “This is something that I will never applaud, notwithstanding the huge responsibility of Nawaz Sharif in arriving at this pass and the members of parliament challenging the law passed by themselves,” he said.

He said that for quite some time a whispering campaign was going on, suggesting that efforts were afoot to get the elections postponed and pave way for a government of technocrats for three to four years to eventually re-write the political landscape of the country. He said that the recent verdict by SC had the potential to increase political instability in the country. He urged the parliament to play its role in averting any bid to create instability. “While abiding by the court verdict, everyone now must act in a manner to avert instability in the country,” he said.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that he had been repeatedly warning against efforts to undermine the parliament. He expressed the hope that the parliament would overcome the challenges.

Speaking over a matter of public importance, Pasktoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Senator Usman Kakar maintained that in a democratic setup, it was right of the political party to remove its leader, not the court. He suggested that all the political parties should get united against such decisions. “Otherwise, tomorrow other parties may also face the same situation,” he opined.

Kakar also urged the chairman to take steps to stop use of money in the upcoming Senate elections, particularly in Balochistan province where Rs 500 million were being offered for a single vote. He said all institutions should respect the laws made by the parliament otherwise the country would lead to a situation of confrontation.

MQM Senator Barrister Saif claimed that political confrontations were on the rise in the country and political parties stood divided on issues of national interest. The institutions were issuing contradictory statements, he said, and suggested that a constitutional court was need of the hour which may discuss only political and constitutional matters. He claimed that PML-N was ‘wrongly treated’ in the courts. Earlier, the Senate was informed that 213 Pakistani prisoners had been reportedly detained in Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Giving ministerial response to a point of public importance, Rana Afzal said that Afghan authorities had just shown three clusters of 25 prisoners each to Pakistani officials but they were not sharing further details. He said the prisoners, shown to Pakistani officials, were in good health and were being fed properly. He said the government was trying its best for early repatriation of all the Pakistani prisoners.

Responding to another point of public importance, Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan told the House that PIA had suspended its flights from Quetta to Dubai and Quetta to Turbat and Gwadar due to lack of airplanes.

Published in Daily Times, February 23rd 2018.