Senate Session, Chairman Perceives MQM Resignations as not Voluntary
ISLAMABAD: In a ruling on Monday, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani justified his act of keeping his decision on MQM resignations pending, stating that he perceived that the resignations might not be “voluntary or genuine”.
“Presently, the stated position, in the text of the resignation of each of the MQM senator is, they are tendered under ‘protest’ in furtherance of a political agenda. Furthermore, there is reasonable material available on the record, which gives me a perception that the resignation of some of the members may not be voluntary or genuine and the true intention is not to vacate the seat,” Mr Rabbani said while reading out his detailed ruling on the opening day of the Senate session.
Providing a timeline, Mr Rabbani said the process on the MQM resignations would start under the constitutional clause which states that “the house may declare the seat of a member vacant if he / she remains absent for 40 sittings continuously without seeking a leave”.
The chairman said the process would have come into motion within a week in case of an individual member’s resignation.
He made it clear that his ruling “does not decide the question of acceptance or otherwise of resignations which continue to be pending but this pendency cannot continue infinitely”.
In an apparent reference to the petitions pending before the Supreme Court over the MQM resignations, Mr Rabbani specifically mentioned that the final authority on accepting or rejecting the resignation of a member of parliament rested with the National Assembly speaker or the Senate chairman.
“It may be noted that if a member of either house resigns, the termination of his / her membership is not automatic and it is made dependent upon verification and subsequent acceptance of such resignation by the chairman or the speaker, as the case may be, unlike in the case of the president, the prime minister, the speaker, the chairman, judges of the Supreme Court or high courts, etc. which does not provide for any such verification. This constitutional responsibility of acceptance or otherwise of resignation is placed on the shoulders of chairman and speaker only,” said Mr Rabbani.
The Senate unanimously passed four resolutions which were not included in the day’s agenda.
In two of the resolutions, the house praised the prime minister’s address to the UN General Assembly session in which he presented a four-point peace formula to India and hailed the raising of Palestinian flag at the UN Headquarters for the first time.
He also directed the Senate Secretariat to send copies of his ruling to registrars of the Supreme Court and high courts as well as other government functionaries and ministries concerned.
The house adopted a resolution through a voice vote calling upon the government to shift the headquarters of the Water and Power Development Authority, known as Wapda House, from Lahore to Islamabad.
The chairman put the resolution that had been moved by PPP’s Baz Mohammad Khan for vote when it was opposed by the government. Mr Rabbani, however, referred a similar resolution seeking the shifting of the Pakistan Cricket Board head office to Islamabad from Lahore to the house committee on devolution.
The house witnessed a walkout by members from the three smaller provinces when PML-N’s Ghous Mohammad Niazi made what was described as some objectionable remark about opponents of the Kalabagh Dam. The remarks were later expunged by the chairman.
Earlier, the Senate adopted three motions moved by PPP’s Farhatullah Babar calling for convening a joint sitting of parliament to take up three private member’s bills that had been passed by the Senate but lapsed due to failure of the government to get them through the National Assembly within 90 days.
Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Aminul Hasnat informed the Senate that the number of Pakistani pilgrims killed in the Mina stampede stood at 76 and those injured at 47, while 60 pilgrims were still missing.
He said the Saudi authorities had confirmed the martyrdom of only 29 Pakistanis and 28 of them had been buried in Makkah.
Mr Hasnat said the personnel of Pakistani Haj Mission had been denied access to the stampede site by the Saudi authorities during the rescue and relief operation.
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