Pak army chief's remarks: Senate chief proposes joint session
Rabbani calls for in-camera meeting as senators raise alarm.
Amid a continuing debate over the army chief's provocative statement on governance, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has suggested that an in-camera joint session of parliament should be held to discuss it.
Rabbani called for the joint session as senators picked up the largely negative reaction earlier voiced in the National Assembly where several members voiced alarm that Gen. Raheel Sharif had overstepped his constitutional authority.
Rabbani further proposed that besides the progress on the National Action Plan (NAP), the in-camera session should also take up issues pertaining to foreign policy. It is widely believed that the Nawaz Sharif government has ceded its control over major foreign policy matters to the army.
While ruling PML-N members kept a discreet silence in the Senate, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan came forward to back the government. "We (opposition) will be standing with you (government), as we did (during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf's sit-in), in case of any trouble."
However, while giving the government a much needed vote of confidence as its faces problems with the army, Aitzan Ahsan criticised members of the ruling party for failing to stand up to defend the government in the lower and upper houses.
Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the army chief had no business to publicly censure the government.
He, however, noted that the ruling PML-N had indeed effected weak governance that became evident when the military spokesman released the statement without its permission.
"The announcement (from the corps commanders' meeting) was in itself a sign of poor governance," Babar pointed out. He added that the military should have relayed its concerns to the prime minister in a private meeting.
The PPP senator pointed out that the government had backtracked on commitments made as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), had abolished ministry of human rights and has failed to appoint dedicated foreign and defence ministers.
Professor Sajid Mir said that all institutions should work within their constitutionally defined parameters, and not try to become the "supervisor" of the civil government.
The PTI senators implicitly endorsed army chief's stance, saying it highlights incompetence and ineptitude to implement several aspects of the NAP which enjoyed national consensus.
Most media anchors agreed that the government had failed in implementing NAP's decisions on pursuing vigorously the cases of accused terrorists in courts, terror financing, hate speeches and taking to logical conclusion the cases of MQM workers arrested on charge of indulging in target killings, extortion and Imran Farooq's murder - firstname.lastname@example.org
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