ISLAMABAD: In the absence of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies, the upper house of parliament has become redundant. None of the parties present in the house is interested in convening its session and the government is also not interested.
The parliamentary calendar, which was approved by the federal cabinet, has become unworkable. The Senate session was to be summoned on Sept 1 as per the schedule, but no summary was moved by the Prime Minister’s House for calling the session till Sunday, Sept 3.
The 331st session of the Senate was prorogued on 9th of the last month. It was understood that the house would meet to take up the economic and political situation in the country soon after the induction of caretaker government.
Interestingly, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar was a member of Senate when he was picked for the slot by the leader of the house and leader of the opposition in the former National Assembly.
Kakar resigned from the Senate as he was going to become the PM the next day. It was not imperative upon the caretaker PM to quit the house membership, but Kakar, who was a member from the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), opted to give up his membership for maintaining strict impartiality as the caretaker chief executive of the country.
Parliamentary sources told The News that being the lone elected constitutional entity, the Senate could discuss everything under the sun and the federal ministers of the caretaker administration could be made answerable to the House.
Interestingly, the Senate is currently without a leader of house since former federal minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar, who was the leader of the house when the former government completed its tenure, in unavailable.
The caretaker PM did not ask him to continue. Former chairman Senate and distinguished jurist Senator Farooq H Naik of the PPP is of the view that the caretaker PM should immediately appoint a leader of the house, so that the house could get a shape and start working. Talking to this scribe, Naik Sunday said Senator Dar ceased to be the leader of House in the Senate. With the induction of the new leader of the house, the PM should activate the upper house of parliament. He was of the opinion that in the absence of National Assembly, the efficacy of Senate as legislature and in other capacities has become inconsequential.
Senator Afnanullah Khan of PMLN, who has just returned from London after joining consultations with PMLN Quaid Nawaz Sharif, told this correspondent that the party has not formed any line of action as far as convening of the session is concerned.
It is the government that would convene the session and the PM should call the session for discussion on various important subjects. He reminded that 25 members of the Senate could submit requisition for holding a session.
The chairman Senate is bound to convene a session within the stipulated time after filing of the requisition.
Former leader of the opposition in Senate Senator Dr Shahzad Waseem of the PTI slowed down his activities and was not keen to have a session of the upper house. The PTI chairman had designated Senator Ali Zafar Ali to lead the opposition, but Dr Shahzad Waseem insisted that he was still the opposition leader. However, he too was not keen in calling the house session, sources said.