Treasury senators want release of political prisoners
* Call for ‘redefined’ NAB under parliament
* Senate likely to pass 2-offices bill tomorrow
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: Treasury senators have called for the release of political prisoners for a “national reconciliation” and demanded that the National Accountability Bureau be redefined and placed under parliament’s control.
The Senate is expected to pass the two-offices bill tomorrow (Monday). Senator Mushahid Hussain of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) demanded the release of political prisoners and confidence-building measures with the opposition. “The time has come for all political prisoners, including Asif Zardari, Javed Hashmi and Yousuf Raza Gillani, to be released. The time has come for national reconciliation,” he said, prompting an outburst of applause on both sides of the house.
After his speech, Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) leader Raza Rabbani went to Mr Hussain and congratulated him. Treasury members also endorsed his speech. The PML leader said the role of NAB should be redefined and it should be made answerable to parliament. “We need transparency in accountability,” he said, adding that NAB should catch thieves regardless of their political affiliation.
He defended Gen Musharraf and his uniform, but conceded that military rule was not in the national interest. He said the belief that military rule should not continue in Pakistan was growing within the army. Mr Hussain hoped that General Pervez Musharraf would be the last military ruler in Pakistan. “Kashmir and terrorism are the two important issues, and the military has a role in both of them.”
Senate Chairman Mohammadmian Soomro and Leader of the House Wasim Sajjad stated that the house would conclude the debate on the two-offices bill by Monday. Balochistan National Party leader Sanaullah Baloch said Gen Musharraf should have resigned from military service and waited two years before becoming the president. He said constitutional restrictions could not be ignored through a bill.
Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali said laws made to empower individuals could never be considered good laws. “We were told to support General Ziaul Haq because his rule was needed for Islam. Now, we have been told to support another general to revert the policies of his predecessor (Zia).”
PML-N leader Sardar Mehtab Abbasi stated that future generations would regret the passage of the two-offices bill.
MMA leader Maulana Rahat Hussain accused Gen Musharraf of violating the promise he made to the nation.