PAKISTAN: PTV criticized for not covering Senate

The opposition in the Senate on Wednesday criticized the Pakistan Television for a blackout of a portion of proceedings of Monday

Thursday, December 18, 2003

ISLAMABAD, Dec 17: The opposition in the Senate on Wednesday criticized the Pakistan Television for a blackout of a portion of proceedings of Monday, which was devoted to paying homage to Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal president Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani.

The opposition decided to move a privilege motion against the PTV's attitude. Speaking at a news conference after walking out from the house, People's Party Parliamentarians leader Mian Raza Rabbani said the opposition had decided to take part in the Senate proceedings for two days to pass a condolence resolution and pay homage to the late MMA leader.

He said that while the national television televized the proceedings in which the house condemned the bomb explosion targeting President Gen Pervez Musharraf, it blacked out the portion in which both the sides paid tribute to Maulana Noorani.

He said the opposition was determined to continue its protest and boycott of the proceedings as long as the draft of constitutional amendments was not presented in the house.

He opposed the inclusion of the sixth schedule about the local bodies in the proposed amendment package and termed it a violation of constitutional provisions.

He referred to Article 70 of the Constitution in which the federal and concurrent lists were defined and local bodies was declared a provincial subject. By making the sixth schedule a part of the Constitution, the provinces' right to legislation would be curtailed, he said.

Senator Rabbani deplored the Dec 31 deadline set by the National Database and Registration Authority for the cancellation of old national identity cards and said the poor people in the far-flung areas could not reach the Nadra outlets in such a short time.

He warned that Nadra, which had created a mess of electoral rolls earlier, was heading towards another chaos. He alleged that Nadra was ignoring the registration of new voters in those areas from where the opposition had won the elections.

Mr Rabbani condemned the order of trial in jail of Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy President Javed Hashmi to hide its failure in making any case against him. He said it was a deliberate attempt to deprive the national press of its right to cover the trial, which would have revealed the reality to the people.

He said: "We demand an open trial of Mr Hashmi so that the media is able to cover it and the people at large are kept informed about the false case that has been established against him."

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) parliamentary leader Ishaq Dar said his party would move the court against the civil judge's order of holding the trial on jail premises.

He alleged that the judge hearing Mr Hashmi's case was influenced by the Islamabad chief commissioner to issue the orders. Jamaat-i-Islami deputy chief Prof Khurshid Ahmed termed Mr Hashmi's arrest immoral and the torture on him condemnable.

He criticized the PTV for the blackout of Senate proceedings. He asserted that the detention of Allama Sajid Naqvi was an example of political harassment as he had not been served a charge sheet.

He criticized the promulgation of the Contempt of Court Ordinance when the Senate was in session and termed it a breach of the privilege of the house. He said the Constitution provided that a bill could be moved in the Senate if there was an emergency and the National Assembly was not in session.

MMA Senator Ismail Buledi said the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines had committed contempt of court by not implementing two orders of the Supreme Court for the reinstatement of 774 sacked employees.