ISLAMABAD - The 99th session of the Senate will begin at the Parliament House today.

Apart from legislative business, the Upper House will debate important national issues during the session.

Meanwhile, opposition parties in the Senate have decided to put pressure on the government to arrange a briefing in the house on the country’s foreign policy with particular reference to talks with the Taliban and the visits of the prime minister to the United States, Britain and Afghanistan.

According to the parliamentary leader of the main opposition PPP, Mian Raza Rabbani, the opposition would ask the government to provide specific dates for discussion on key national issues, including the foreign policy.

Rabbani regretted that during the previous session, the government had committed on the floor of the house that Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz would give a comprehensive briefing to the house on issues like talks with the Taliban and US drone attacks. However, that did not happen.

Moreover, he said, the opposition would like to know the government’s strategy to deal with the situation after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

He said that the government had never taken the parliament into confidence on key national issues.

The PPP leader said that opposition members had submitted a requisition notice on November 21 to convene a Senate session. But, he added, since the government had itself called a session, the opposition would ask the government to take up the nine-point agenda that had been submitted with the opposition’s requisition notice signed by 47 senators belonging to PPP, PML-Q, Awami National Party and Balochistan National Party-Awami.

The opposition has placed the issue of price hike, especially the prices of petroleum products, gas and electricity, on top of the agenda.

During the last sitting of the house, the opposition had provided a walkover to the government as it had failed to have a discussion on important national issues because of its decision to boycott the proceedings over a row with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for allegedly providing wrong statistics regarding killings in terrorist attacks. As a mark of protest, opposition members adopted a unique strategy and held their own “parallel session” outside the parliament.

The opposition had agreed to end its boycott after successful negotiations with a government team headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Besides, the opposition wants a debate on the situation in Balochistan with particular reference to relief efforts in earthquake-affected areas of the province and the issue of missing persons.

The opposition has also planned to raise the planned privatisation of 68 state units and institutions and formation of the National Security Council.