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A look at newly elected chairman of the Senate Raza Rabbani

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By:Chaudhry Ahsan Premee

Associated Press Service


“Mian Raza Rabbani, Member, Senate of Pakistan, having been elected as Chairman of the Senate, under Clause (1) of Article 60 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has assumed charge of the Office of the Chairman, Senate on 12th March, 2015,” says a notification of the Senate Secretariat. His brief profile follows:

Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, 60, is a senior politician from Sindh who earned fame for constitutional reform and social progress. A committed leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, he entered politics in 1981 as an activist of People’s Student Federation and rose to the position of Additional Secretary-General of PPP and Parliamentary Leader in the Senate.

Chairman Rabbani was awarded the highest civil award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, for his parliamentary services. In addition, he was awarded the Bacha Khan Award for the Defence of Provincial Rights. The Human Rights Society of Pakistan selected him for the 2006 award for his invaluable services for human rights.

He was Vice-chairman of the National Institute of Public Policy and member, Forum of Federations, Toronto. He has represented Pakistan as a delegate and speaker at the UN General Assembly, Inter-Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Parliamentary Union.

He belongs to a well-known Mian family of Faisalabad. After living in Lahore for a brief period his family moved to Karachi where he received his school education from Habib Public School and later got admitted to Karachi University for BA (Honours) and then LLB degrees. Senator Rabbani’s father, Group Captain (Retd) Mian Ata Rabbani had the honour of becoming the first ADC of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

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Senator Raza Rabbani became a member of the PPP and contested the 1988 elections on a PPP ticket and went on to serve as adviser to Chief Minister Sindh. His career as a senator began in 1993 where he held the chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Sports and Culture.

However, in 1994 the then Prime Minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto asked him to join the Cabinet as Federal Minister of State for Law and Justice. As Law Minister he played a crucial role in drafting the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution on reserved seats for women in the national and provincial assemblies.

His tenure as Law Minister ended in 1996 as a result of government’s dismissal but he continued as Senator till 1999. After a short absence he got back to the Senate in 2003 and then in the 2006 elections. His present tenure in the Senate began in 2012 when he got elected on a PPP ticket to represent the province of Sindh.

In 1996 Senator Rabbani became the Deputy Leader of the Opposition but also chaired the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting. He continued to play an important role in various committees of national importance.

He became Leader of the Opposition in the Senate once again in 2005-2008 and from 2008-2009 became Leader of the House. In 2009 the then President Asif Ali Zardari appointed him chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms.

In 2010, he served as Advisor to the Prime Minister on Inter-Provincial Coordination wherein he co-authored and piloted the Eighteenth Amendment Bill virtually removing the President’s power to dissolve the parliament unilaterally, turning the country into a parliamentary republic. The same year he chaired the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Committee mandated to prepare a relief package for Balochistan and present it in a joint sitting of the Parliament.

In 2013, he was a joint candidate of Pakistan People’s Party, Awami National Party and Balochistan National Party for the office of President of Pakistan. The Alliance boycotted the elections.

Senator Rabbani has authored numerous books including “A Biography of Pakistani Federalism” and “LFO: A Fraud on the Constitution.” He contributed to the book, “Blind Justice.”

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