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Opp senators walk out over ministers’ ‘incomplete’ answers

AFP

ISLAMABAD: Opposition lawmakers in the Upper House of parliament on Wednesday reacted strongly to what they saw as incomplete responses by federal ministers to their questions, and all the opposition staged a walkout. The PPP-led opposition reiterated that it is routine of all federal ministers to come the House without complete briefing and misguide the members. The rumpus was created when PPP’s Senator Sughra Imam stated that the Ministry of Finance had failed to provide the detailed list of privatised public sector enterprises (PSEs) over a deferred question. In a written reply it was stated that there are 32 PSEs to be privatised, but only 11 were mentioned.
On behalf of the finance minister, Balighur Rehman said this is a list of enterprises which will be privatised on priority basis in phase one. He said he had the complete list of 32 PSEs and will read it out, but he was not allowed to. Opposition leader in Senate Aitizaz Ahsan regretted the incomplete answer. “Why have complete details not been provided in written so that all the members could read them?” asked Mian Raza Rabbani who gave approval for privatisation of these PSEs because they were included in the federal legislative list two, which required approval from the Council of Common Interests (CCI). 
He said that the government has announced an amnesty schemes for the tax defaulters which, according to him, were near and dear ones of the ruling party’s members. Due to an exchange of harsh words ANP’s Haji Mohammad Adeel and Raza Rabbani announced a walkout. When the opposition senators returned, Federal Minister Balighur Rehman said blue-eyed people were appointed in these PSEs during the last five years, apparently referring to the PPP government’s tenure. Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the House should also discuss the reasons of the downfall of PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Railways and other PSEs during the last five years.
Senate Deputy Chairman Saber Baloch termed the answer incomplete and directed the Ministry of Finance to provide a detailed answer to the question. The House expressed astonishment when Salim Mandviwalla asked Balighur Rehman the current price of one kilogramme of flour, but the latter failed to answer. Baloch then put the same question to five other ministers but none of them responded. However, Balighur Rehman later said the current price of one kilogramme wheat flour is Rs 43.5.
The House take up two privilege motions moved by Abdur Rauf against DC Karachi and Sherala Malik against PIA and referred both to the committee concerned. But Saeed Ghani’s privilege motion against the Ministry of Finance which, according to him, provided a wrong statement to the House was not taken up. Baloch said it will be taken up tomorrow after being examined. During the ‘Zero Hour’, MQM’s Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that his party workers were victimised in the ongoing military operation in Karachi. 

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