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HomeNationalOpposition stages walkout from Senate amid ruckus over NSP

Opposition stages walkout from Senate amid ruckus over NSP

Senators seek details of retired army officers employed in Nadra

Lawmakers in the Upper House of parliament on Wednesday sought details about the recruitment of armed forces personnel in the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra).

“I had questioned how many people are on deputation in Nadra and how many retired armed forces personnel are working in Nadra,” said Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed.

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He added that the answer he had been provided was unsatisfactory and explained that he was asking about the number of retired armed forces personnel that were re-employed in Nadra.

“According to my perception and information, a great number of retired armed forces personnel have again been employed in Nadra despite unemployment increasing in Pakistan and no jobs for our large number of graduates from educational institutions.

“I think giving such jobs with great privileges and perks to those who have reached retirement age is an injustice with the youth,” Ahmed said. Reiterating his question, he said he should be informed about the number of retired armed forces personnel employed in Nadra.

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Responding to the JI senator, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said six people were employed on deputation in Nadra and they were not retired members of the armed forces. The minister said a fresh question needed to be submitted for Ahmed’s concerns to be fully addressed since the current question was regarding people employed through deputation.

PML-N Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar then further shaped the question and asked for precise details of the number of retired army officers employed, their date of appointment, their responsibilities and whether they had additional qualifications meriting their employment.

“Around two months back, I read in a newspaper that close to two dozen directors and deputy directors – all retired army officers – were [employed] in one day,” Tarar said. The parliamentary affairs minister termed Tarar’s query a “very good question” and said it would be responded to in detail.

“No one is being given special privilege. These people are employed according to the job specification,” Khan said.

The Senate session was also marred by sloganeering and protests by the opposition benches over the National Security Policy (NSP) not being brought to parliament.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said matters of “life and death” were related to national security. While commending the policy’s focus on economic security, she criticised the manner in which it was unveiled.

Rehman said it was expected that the policy would be brought to the Senate since it was the Upper House of parliament, which was the “biggest forum for legislation and policymaking”. She said the draft policy was presented in the National Security Committee meeting on December 6 which the opposition had boycotted and explained the reasons for doing so.

Rehman said that while the opposition leaders had been called to the meeting, the prime minister did not want to appear in that meeting and unless he took input and critique, then any such meeting would be “meaningless”.

She said input should have been taken from parliament, civil society, think tanks and other stakeholders. Rehman criticised the “discrepancy” between the economic focus of the NSP and what she said were “ground realities” – pointing to the government’s action such as introducing a mini-budget or taking loans.

“What NSP is this which didn’t come in front of parliament and wasn’t debated on and which parliament has no role in,” she thundered while PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz interrupted her speech.

“You want to resurrect those groups who are announcing jihad against Pakistan and the state and mainstream them and accept them? What NSP is this which is economically centred that IMF (International Monetary Fund) will run?”

The session then saw a heated exchange between, Rehman and Aziz with the former calling on the Senate chairman to control the house.

“Black laws are being brought in their tenure and they’re being given the cover of National Security Policy. This is a disgusting joke with Pakistan and parliament,” Rehman hit out before calling on the opposition benches to stage a walkout.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani repeatedly called on the treasury and opposition benches to return to their seats, ultimately succeeding in convincing the lawmakers to do so after some time.

Separately, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on Wednesday informed the Senate that security and patrolling of railway tracks had been assigned to technically-equipped “gangmen” and Railways police.

He was replying to a calling attention notice raised by Senator Mushaq Ahmed about laying off patrolling officers.

The minister said that the government was making all-out efforts to bring about improvement in railways. He added that corruption had been eliminated from the organization.

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