Ijaz Kakakhel Islamabad
The Upper House of parliament on Wednesday observed ruckus, sloganeering and protests by the opposition members over the National Security Policy not being brought to parliament.
The opposition senators even staged a token walked out as protest. “What sort of a policy is this that the parliament did not get a chance to debate over? The parliament has not even seen this policy,” Senator Sherry Rehman said, chiding the government.
Leader of the House for the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem said the NSP was presented to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, but the Opposition decided to boycott the session.
However, he noted that when “the men in uniform come to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security meeting, then the Opposition rushed to attend it”. In response, the Opposition members protested in front of the senate chairman’s dias and then staged a token walkout. Later, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani was able to restore order to the house.
The National Security Committee on Monday approved Pakistan’s first-ever National Security Policy 2022-2026, and on Tuesday, it received the federal cabinet’s nod as well.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said matters of “life and death” were related to national security. While commending the policy’s focus on economic security, she criticized the manner in which it was unveiled.
Rehman said it was expected that the policy would be brought to the Senate since it was the upper house of parliament which was the “biggest forum for legislation and policymaking”. She said the draft policy was presented in the National Security Committee meeting on December 6 which the opposition had boycotted and explained the reasons for doing so.
Rehman said that while the opposition leaders had been called to the meeting, the prime minister did not want to appear in that meeting and unless he took input and critique, then any such meeting would be “meaningless”.
She said input should have been taken from parliament, civil society, think tanks and other stakeholders. Rehman criticized the discrepancy between the economic focus of the NSP and what she said were “ground realities” — pointing to the government’s action such as introducing a mini-budget or taking loans.
“What NSP is this which didn’t come in front of parliament and wasn’t debated on and which parliament has no role in,” she thundered while PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz interrupted her speech.
“You want to resurrect those groups who are announcing jihad against Pakistan and the state and mainstream them and accept them? What NSP is this which is economically centred that IMF will run?” The session then saw a heated exchange between, Rehman and Aziz with the former calling on the Senate chairman to control the house. “Black laws are being brought in their tenure and they’re being given the cover of National Security Policy.