Three Senators barred from session after coronavirus tests

Treasury, opposition members clash over 18th Amendment

By: News Desk      Published: 02:35 PM, 12 May, 2020
Three Senators barred from session after coronavirus tests

Three Senators were barred from attending the Senate session on Tuesday after the test results suggested that they might have contracted the coronavirus.

Quoting sources, 24NewsHD TV channel said Senator Abida Azeem, Senator Atta-ur-Rehman and Senator Fida Muhammad were stopped from attending the session by the Senate Secretariat. 

The sources said the three senators would be tested again for the virus after the tests conducted on Monday.

According to rules agreed upon by the government and the opposition, all the Senate and National Assembly members are required to pass the coronavirus test before they could attend the sessions.

As far as the party affiliation is concerned, Abida was elected as a senator in 2018 as an independent from Balochistan in 2018.

On the other hand, Atta-ur-Rehman was elected to the Upper House of the Parliament in 2015 on a JUI-F ticket from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He is a brother of the party chief, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman.

Similarly, Fida is also from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He had won the Senate election in 2018 for the ruling PTI.

Senate proceedings

The ruling party and the PPP members traded barbs over the 18th Amendment as the Senate session to discuss the coronavirus pandemic began on Tuesday, with PML-N’s Raja Zafar-ul-Haq blasting the PTI for portraying the Sindh government as anti-country.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said disposing of the 18th Amendment wasn’t a strategy of the ruling party and the Sindh government should first ascertain how much autonomy it had.

Addressing the Senate on the first day of its session, Qureshi said Sindh should have known what kind of ordinance it was introducing. Who were they to exempt the people from paying utility bills, he remarked and added that the provincial government did not have the power to do so.

Sindh used batons against the people but still failed, the foreign minister said, referring to the provincial government’s efforts to implement a strict lockdown.

The remarks came as the Sindh government on Monday had to address the objections raised by the governor on the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020, by removing the sections related to electricity and gas bills.

The governor had not signed the ordinance and sent it back to the chief minister after raising objection on giving relief to the people in utility bills. The subject relates to the Centre, he had argued.

Earlier, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman in her speech said that a crazy lockdown was being witnessed in the country as she questioned what the government strategy was to tackle the coronavirus.

She also criticised the government for statements given by the ruling party leaders and said it wasn’t the PPP which interfered with the 18th Amendment.

A person is missing and that missing person is the prime minister, Sherry said. Where is the prime minister, who is running the country, she added.

Leader of Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafar-ul-Haq said a propaganda had been launched against Sindh as if the provincial government was anti-country.

He said an attempt was being made to spread hate against the opposition, adding that the consequences of creating the atmosphere at the government level would have to be faced.