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Senate session today

ISLAMABAD: The new Senate, which has emerged after the last month`s election of half of its members and new chairman and deputy chairman, will formally meet for the first time on Monday (today) to take up over a dozen items on the agenda issued by the Senate Secretariat for the private members` day.

This will also be the first experience for Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, who has never been elected to any legislature, to preside over a regular session of the upper house of parliament.

The two opposition parties -the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have announced that they will move privilege motions against Prime Minister Shahid Khagan Abbasi for his controversial remarks about the Senate chairman, terming it an `insult to parliament` Political and parliamentary experts believe that the ruling of the Senate chairman on the privilege motions, if moved by the opposition parties, will be a test case for Mr Sanjrani as it will set the course for future proceedings of the house.

The ruling alliance led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz alleges that Mr Sanjrani was elected chairman through horsetrading.

Speaking at different public gatherings, Prime Minister Shahid Khagan Abbasi had expressed concern over the election of Mr Sanjrani and said there was a need to elect a consensus chairman of the upper house of parliament as it reflected the federation.

In reply to a question during arecent news conference, the prime minister had even said that the Senate chairman did not have the powers to summon him to the house, eliciting more criticism from the opposition parties.

When contacted, newlyappointed parliamentary leader of the PPP Dr Sikandar Mandhro said moving the privilege motion against the prime minister was part of the party`s agenda, but they had so far not decided about the timing for its presentation. He said he had convened a meeting of the parliamentary group on Monday noon in which they would make a decision in this regard.

Dr Mandhro said he had seen the Senate agenda and the privilege motion was not on it, indicating that he had not much knowledge about the Senate rules. Under the rules, a privilege motion can be raised any time by a member and usually it is taken up af ter the question hour but it never appears on the agenda.

When Dr Mandhro`s attention was drawn to the Senate rules, he said in Sindh Assembly privilege motions were placed on the agenda and insisted that such motions should be placed on Senate agenda as well.

The Senate Secretariat has issued a 15-point agenda for Monday`s sitting which include introduction of two bills and discussions on various issues, including `the taxes levied on petroleum products, deteriorating healthcare system, energy crisis and recent devaluation of Pakistani rupee`.

Besides this, the house is also set to take up resolutions on development funds for the parliamentarians, performance of the Pakistan Television network, payment of pension to poor and elderly pensioners, allocation of funds in the Public Sector Development Programme for opening of new passport offices in all provinces, prices of life saving drugs and implementation of Aghaz-i-Hugooq Balochistan Package.