Senate sitting adjourned for lack of quorum

ISLAMABAD:

Lack of quorum and protests in the Senate on Friday made its session lackluster and prompted the president to wrap it up without dealing with a substantive agenda.

The upper house convened under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Saleem.

During the brief session, the issue of the government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was the subject of heated discussion, with the two sides trading barbs.

The day before, the government had bulldozed its State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 and its Supplementary Finance Bill through the National Assembly amid fierce resistance from parties in opposition.

Attacking the government on Friday, opposition leader Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said the government was raising electricity tariffs in line with terms agreed with the IMF.

“The people are forced to protest every month,” he said, regretting that despite vehement opposition from the opposition to the mini budget, the government has continued to bulldoze legislation through the National Assembly.

Read Inflated electricity bills irk senate panel

Dr. Shehzad Waseem, Leader of the House in the Senate, in response to objections raised by Mr. Gilani, explained that the government had passed the mini-budget because it had a majority. “We passed the bill through legislation and in a parliamentary democracy, legislation is done in a parliamentary way.”

He stressed that the laws enacted by a parliamentary democracy must be accepted and respected by all, urging the opposition to respect the sanctity of parliament.

Waseem noted that it was ironic that those now outright blaming the incumbent government for approaching the IMF had themselves approached the IMF seventeen times.

He said previous governments are responsible for the problems facing the masses today.

Mushtaq Ahmed, from Jamaat-e-Islami, said the increase in electricity prices on IMF terms was galvanizing bitter feelings among ordinary people who were now forced to protest against this “cruelty”.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said it is the responsibility of elected representatives to strengthen and ensure the sanctity of parliament.

He regretted that the opposition had “undermined the sanctity of parliament” by attacking the bill in an unseemly way. “If you don’t intend not to listen, you can go out.”

The opposition left the house on Ali Mohammad Khan’s remarks before signaling a quorum.

The President adjourned the proceedings until 3 p.m. Monday.

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