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PM attends Senate session, vows to resolve issues

PM attends Senate session, vows to resolve issues

ISLAMABAD: Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attended the Senate session on Monday for the first time after being elected prime minister and vowed to pay frequent visits to the upper house to resolve all important issues to be raised there.

The prime minister was urged by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, apart from resolving other important national matters, to also address the issue of distribution of the powers between parliament and the executive.

“I will visit the house repeatedly,” the prime minister said after his sudden appearance in the Senate which surprised the members belonging to both treasury and opposition.

“I assure members of both sides of the house of resolving any outstanding issue,” he said after asking the chairman to fix meetings on important national issues and call him for discussion.

Mr Abbasi said he would first attend a special meeting of the Senate on the issue of Reko Diq and will apprise the senators of its present status and the government’s point of view.

Chairman hopes prime minister will ensure just distribution of powers between parliament and executive

The Reko Diq copper and gold mine is located in Chaghi, Balochistan, whose estimated mineral resources are said to be 5.9 billion tonnes with an average copper grade of 0.41 per cent and average gold grade of 0.22 g/tonne.

Mr Rabbani expressed gratitude to the prime minister for attending the session. “This gesture of yours will further strengthen parliament,” he said.

“I hope that the prime minister will also ensure just distribution of powers (guaranteed in the Constitution) between the parliament and executive,” he added.

He said that under Article 61 of the Constitution, the prime minister should visit the Senate at least once a week.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said in a lighter vein that he was happy to see that Mr Abbasi had broken the tradition of the present government by attending the upper house’s session. “The prime minister has broken a tradition and he will follow it in future,” he added.

“The presence of the prime minister in the chair of leader of the house fulfils the prestige of the house,” he said.

Earlier, 21 bills were referred to the standing committees concerned, two bills were passed and three were rejected.

The house was informed that Pakistan had fallen to Number Eight among the poorest countries of the world in terms of food security.

Senator Mohsin Aziz presented a motion showing Pakistan among 11 most hunger-stricken countries of the world. The situation in Pakistan is said to be worse than Ethiopia, Angola, India, Namibia and other poor countries.

Taj Haider, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum, Barrister Atiq Sheikh, Sehar Kamran, Jamaldini, Tahir Mashhadi, Shibli Faraz, Javed Abbasi, Sherry Rehman and Murtaza Wahab also spoke on the issue and criticised the successive governments for not providing even two meals a day to the poor.

Taking part in discussion on his motion on empowering the people and Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said that keeping the status quo in GB was no longer in the national interest and proposed that its people be given representation in the Senate and the National Assembly as was available to Fata as well as a share in the NFC award.

Senator Chaudhry Tanveer Khan moved a bill seeking to prohibit the practice of witchcraft in the country.

He claimed that there was no penalty in the laws for cheating people by fortune-tellers and quacks.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2017

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