ISLAMABAD: The indecisiveness of Senate’s acting chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri over presentation of a committee’s report led to a unique situation in the upper house of parliament when the chair allowed presentation of the report, but stopped the secretariat staff from distributing its copies to the members.
A confused Haideri allowed Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance Salim Mandviwala to lay the report on the privatisation of Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC), Taxila, despite protests by a number of committee members from the ruling PML-N. Later, Maulana Haideri declared that he would give his ruling on the status of the report on Monday.
This act of the chair provoked opposition members who not only lodged a protest but also staged a walkout, accusing Mr Haideri of showing “bias” and succumbing to the pressure of the ruling party.
Maulana Haideri was presiding over the opening day sitting of the summer session in the absence of Chairman Raza Rabbani who has assumed the office of the acting president because of President Mamnoon Hussain’s visit to Turkey.
After Mr Mandviwala, who belongs to the opposition PPP, presented the report, three members of the committee, all belonging to the ruling PML-N, claimed that they had not seen the report and, therefore, the issue should be referred back to the committee.
PML-N’s Ayesha Raza Farooq said that she was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance which had referred the matter of the HEC’s privatisation to a sub-committee for finalising recommendations. She alleged that the report of the sub-committee had been approved by the main committee despite the fact that it was not mentioned on the agenda.
Two other PML-N senators — Nuzhat Sadiq and Saud Majeed — endorsed the viewpoint of Ayesha Farooq and requested the chair to refer the matter back to the committee.
On the other hand, PPP’s parliamentary leader Saeed Ghani claimed that the report had already been presented before the house and, therefore, it could not be referred back. He suggested that the house should fix a day for a thorough debate on the report and the members could then express their views on it.
Mr Ghani said the report had only been presented and it had not been adopted by the house yet. Therefore, he said, the members still had the chance to give their input on the report. Chairman of the committee, Mr Mandviwala, said that Ayesha Farooq was not present on the day the committee finalised its report. Despite this, he said, the notes of dissent by the members were attached with the report, which could be debated in the house, which was a bigger forum than the committee.
When the opposition members called for distributing the copies of the report to the members as per practice, Maulana Haideri said that the copies of the report could not be distributed before his ruling, which he would give on Monday.
This prompted the opposition members to lodge a strong noisy protest and all the opposition members, minus the lone member of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, staged a walkout.
Later, talking to Dawn, Mr Mandviwala said that the government members had tried to stop presentation of the report because it could be used as a charge-sheet against the government because of the corruption committed in botched HEC privatisation.
He said the government members were fearful as the report had recommended that the matter should be referred to the National Accountability Bureau.
Saeed Ghani said it seemed that Maulana Haideri had succumbed to the pressure of the ruling party since his JUI-F was a coalition partner with the government.
The upper house will begin a debate on the issue of Panama leaks on Friday.