ISLAMABAD: The Senate Friday unanimously adopted a motion empowering Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani to nominate six senators as members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hitherto consisting of only the National Assembly members.

Rabbani will name the members through consultation with Leader of Opposition and Leader of the House in the Senate. The landmark development took place last month when the government agreed to the Senate’s request for having its representation in the committee.

During the last sitting of the session, it was alleged that the President’s speech, which he had delivered to Parliament’s two chambers, assemblied together, was written by a section officer to praise the incumbent government.

The motion was moved by Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, authorising the Senate chairman to nominate the senators and make any changes in nomination of the members if needed, in the PAC: six members one from each province, the Federal Capital and Fata for representation in PAC, of which three will be from the treasury and three from opposition benches.

With inclusion of six senators, the strength of the top parliamentary watchdog will be 30, which Senate Chairman Rabbani believes, will go a long way in improving the PAC performance as its performance had not been up to the mark.

Taking part in the debate on the president’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament, the opposition lawmakers in the Senate said that president as head of the state failed to give a clear vision to the government.

Declaring the president’s speech disappointing like his predecessors, the opposition senators said that it had nothing new except praising the policies of the government, which as head of the state, he should have avoided.

Senator Nauman Wazir of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said that the president should have given a vision to the country, as where Pakistan should be standing in education, energy, science and technology sectors. The senator regretted that the president had no idea about the issues being faced by the provinces in multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project (CPEC), no vision for the economy, and his silence over rampant corruption, clearly reflected he followed what he was told by the government.

“The only thing which the present government knows well is: “buy them or blackmail

them”, which it has been applying on PTI, but beyond it neither the government nor the president who is the nominee of the ruling government, has any idea to give a clear vision to take the nation to new heights,” he charged.

Senator Muhammad Ali Saif of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said that the speech of the president, who is head of the state, was meant to appreciate the government of his party, who had handed over a written speech by a ‘section officer’, which he delivered.

“It was nothing but the written news bulletin of the state-run TV, so speaking on it is wastage of time. The speech of the president was written by some people in the government and the president had no input in it,” he lamented.

Senator Usman Khan Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) said throughout the president’s speech if anything seemed, could be his own idea, was appointment of females in primary schools, but it also turned out to be wishful thinking of the president as government did nothing for it.

He said as head of the state, the president kept on defending ruling party, which had forced them to believe that he was not neutral, as a president is the symbol of federation, adding the major issues – NFC Award and census – which he should have mentioned in his speech were also missing.

Senator Kakar went on to say that the people of Balochsitan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gligit Baltistan were up in arms against the government for diverting the western route of CPEC, but president did not bother to mention the issue.

“Pakistan has somewhat become isolated for ‘flawed’ foreign policy, but again the president had no idea there was a need to revive the foreign policy,” he said and added that the way Iranian president was treated during his visit to Pakistan, was quite unfortunate, and the president should have taken note of it.

“The Panamaleaks issue, for which the government should show some maturity and initiate inquiry against those holding offshore companies, but again the president didn’t bother about eradicating the menace of corruption. He also did not say a single word on non-implementation of NAP,” he added.

Col (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashahdi of MQM blamed the government for not paying any heed to the president, saying the speech was quite balanced through which he gave his vision how to strengthen Parliament and teething democracy.

The treasury senators, who took part in the debate included Senators Javed Abbasi, Let Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum and Ghous Baksh Niazi were all praise for the president, saying it was the best speech they had ever heard. They said the president had given a vision to the government to put Pakistan on road to prosperity and well-being. The Senate session was prorogued sine die.

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