Senate chafes at clashes among state institutions, media war

* Terms mudslinging among institutions, media houses terrible for democracy * PPP demands return of military lands department top post to civilian officer

ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Upper House of parliament on Tuesday termed the current controversy involving the state institutions, and split in media after the attack on anchorperson Hamid Mir attack as catastrophic for democracy which, they said, was in a transition period currently. 
The senators said the role of the government in all such uncertainties is very vital, but regretted that it is not playing its due role. Speaking over Monday’s motion regarding discussion on the political situation of the country, JUI-F’s Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said the entire nation should salute the security forces that have rendered great sacrifices for protecting the country. “However, it is difficult to salute military dictators like Gen Musharraf, Gen Zia, Yahya and Ayub who destroyed constitutions of the country and involved in dirty politics just to grab power,” he remarked. 
Hamdullah questioned who will decide that politicians are more patriotic or the security forces. Referring to the flashing of ISI chief’s photo by a media house during its coverage of the attack on Hamid Mir, he said, “Showing ISI chief’s picture on April 19 was not good. We all condemned it, but the media also showed pictures of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Yousaf Raza Gilani and others associated with several corruption and other cases.”
While observing that media has portrayed negative picture of politicians and always ridiculed them, Hamdullah stressed that there should be a code of conduct for media. He suggested that a joint committee of the Senate and National Assembly should sit together and efforts should be made to resolve the issue amicably. Ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Senator Jafar Iqbal was of the view that the country is facing serious challenges from different sides today. “Efforts were made to make the general elections questionable, and make them totally null and void and give way to a third force to come into power,” he claimed.
Iqbal asked all stakeholders, including politicians, to sit together and pull the country out of the crises it faces. “Democracy is the only solution to all matters,” he said. PML-N’s Senator Kamil Ali Agha asked the government why it could not take the decision on the right time. He noted that after the attack on Hamid Mir, the prime minister visited him, while on the very next day the chief of army staff visited ISI headquarters to meet its chief. “There should be a balance from the government’s side.”
Earlier, PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar drew attention towards the resentment among civilian officers of the Military Lands and Cantonments (ML&C) department and demanded that the post of director general of the department be given back to the civilian officers after the retirement of the incumbent serving general this week. “The continued retention of the civilian cadre post by serving military officers is illegal, and a violation of the Supreme Court’s order of June 2013, a recipe to demoralise and undermine civilian structures and above all a conflict of interest that will bring a bad name to the military institution,” he said.
“The Military Lands Department director general is supposed to look after the interests of the owner of the land – the federal government – whereas the military is the user of the land,” Babar observed. “Posting a serving military officer as ML&C DG means placing the interests of the land owner in the hands of the land user,” he said, terming it the worst form of conflict of interests that raises many questions. He said that the DG is a BSP-21 civilian cadre post of the ML&C Department, and appointments to it are made by the Public Service Commission through CSS exams. He noted that since 1924 the post has been held by a civilian officer of the department who represents the federal government, until General Musharraf who, soon after his military coup, appointed a serving military officer to the post in 1999.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali informed the Upper House of the parliament that the government was working on a number of projects to generate cheap electricity. Responding to a question during the question hour, the minister said some of the prominent projects include 96MW power project at Nandipur, 746MW project at Guddu, 402MW at Uch, two coal projects in Thar, three wind power projects of 50MW each and a solar energy project in Bahawalpur. 

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