ISLAMABAD: Fearing a backlash from the media and public, Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek has cancelled a visit of senators, which could have promoted the Pakistani cause of raising funds for the flood affectees, Daily Times learnt on Thursday.
In continuation of stringent measures for an austerity cut in expenditures, the Senate chairman disapproved all foreign visits, including the one to attend the 56th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference, scheduled to be held from September 10 to 19 at Nairobi, Kenya, sources told this scribe on Thursday. Expenditures on delegates, spouses, attendants and observers varied from $3,500 to $1,000 per head in addition to travel and TA/DA expenses. Millions of rupees from the national exchequer have been saved by Naek’s orders. Although, this good gesture of the Senate chairman to spare money for humanity in need was beyond any doubt, yet the significance of the mega event of the CPA in Nairobi, Kenya could not be denied as well.
This time, the CPA had envisaged an impressive agenda, which mostly related to the challenges the South Asian countries in general and Pakistan in particular had to encounter with. The CPA General Assembly would hold an extensive workshop in Nairobi on the global water and food crisis, sustainable development of energy and environment and preparation of the Commonwealth for the Emerging New World Economic Order. The participants of the 56th CPA Conference would thoroughly debate on the parliamentary procedural mechanism of accountability, scrutiny of governance through the Internet for strengthening oversight, the role of MPs in the gross roots projects, in protection of migrant workers and in natural disaster management.
All these crucial issues presently dominated our political culture. The authors of the CPA agenda, had been well conversant of the political controversies in its member countries such as Pakistan, enable the MPs from the South Asian countries to contribute their experiences and get benefit out of decades-old experiences of stable parliaments of the developed countries.
Naek while cancelling the trip to Nairobi directed the Senate administration that concrete steps be taken for evolving the IT mechanism through which member countries, unable of virtual participation, could get benefit from or contribute their shares in all mega events of the CPA. Instantly, it would not be materialised because any change in the procedural mechanism for the sessions of the CPA required a 60-days prior notice from the mover under the constitution and the rules of procedure of the CPA.
A reliable source in the Senate claimed that it was not the issue of millions of rupees being spent on lucrative foreign trips. The main dilemma was the way Pakistan spent the money from the national exchequer and what it gets of this hard-earned liquidity. Islamabad’s archrival, India, always surpassed Pakistan at all the global forums because India’s participation in the global debates on every issue had been marvellous. It was the reason that the Indian politicians and citizens occupied significant positions in global bodies such as the IPU and the CPA.
An official in the Senate said that the cancellation of the foreign trip to Nairobi was an ultimate outcome of the media’s ongoing hostile campaign against the elected government’s bid to liaise with the global forums and communities. Although, Pakistan’s absence from the Nairobi conference pacified the political rivals but it would also enable our global rivals to get maximum benefit from this situation.
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Interior Minister Senator Rehman Malik continued to enjoy foreign trips in the name of sensitising the world community for assistance for the flood affectees. Separately, Minister of State and Board of Investment Chairman Saleem H Mandviwalla had been paying a two-day visit to the Republic of Korea to apprise the Korean government and the private sector of the devastation caused by the massive floods in Pakistan. Despite the fact that religious scholars had been advocating the Muslim community to donate for the flood affectees instead of performing Umrah and Haj, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had performed Umrah a couple of days ago.
It is pertinent to mention here that the CPA had been established as an Empire Parliamentary Association, which had been renamed as CPQA in 1948.