National Assembly session: 34 parliamentary panels elected


National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday elected 34 standing committees. This comes after the government’s failed attempt to cover up undue delay in formation of committees through its own interpretation of rules.

The parliamentary panels were set up following the house’s vote in favour of a motion moved by Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain to condone the delay in constitution of the standing committees.

Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had previously warned the government that without a motion condoning the delay, the committees would be deemed unconstitutional.

Rashid referred to Rules of business (Rule 200) and said that the government was bound to constitute standing committees within 30 days of the election of Prime Minister.

Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid had previously tried to cover up the delay by using a different interpretation of the rules.

Referring to Reports of the Committee (Rule 235) he said that the period of 30 days is meant to start after the first NA session whereas it has only been 28 days’ sitting since the PM took oath. Therefore, it should not be considered as a delay, he added.

However Zahid’s interpretation was not entertained and the government moved a motion to condone the delay on the insistence of Sheikh Rashid.

Later, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab moved a motion that standing committees be elected. The motion authorised the NA speaker “to include any member and make such changes in the composition of these committees, as and when he may deem fit.”

Nisar Responds to Islamabad Attack

Meanwhile, responding to a calling attention notice regarding terrorist attack in Bhara Kahu Islamabad, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the attack was plotted in North Wazirstan.

He said that five suspects have been arrested including one local, an Afghan and three belonging to FATA whereas three other suspects were still at large. The suicide bomber failed to hit the target congregation as per the plan due to the security arrangements.

“We are working on a workable document; the first draft has been completed which would be discussed for further fine tuning,” he added.

The minister said that the new policy would comprise internal security (counter terrorism) and national security (international aspect) measures. “It would be wide ranging as security of every single Pakistani including minorities is the responsibility of the government,” he added.

While talking about the Islamabad standoff in which a gunman was arrested, Chaudhry Nisar clarified that he had not mentioned an international conspiracy behind the incident.

The condition of the armed man was stable but police was not given permission to interrogate him as yet. Once the permission is granted all collected information will be corroborated, he added.

Meanwhile, Ameer Zaman of the JUI-F staged a token walkout to protest against postponement of by-elections in NA-25 (DI Khan cum Tank). Zaman said that the situation in the constituency, prior to the postponement decision, was quite normal.

Naeema Kishwar Khan of the JUI-F also condemned the decision saying “law and order situation all across the country was not favorable for elections and elections should be postponed.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.