IMRAN MUKHTAR & SYED DANISH HUSSAIN ISLAMABAD - Former Law Minister and senior lawyer Dr Babar Awan in Senate supporting its chairmans decision to appoint Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri as Leader of the Opposition said that disenfranchising FATA parliamentarians in the appointment process would be tantamount to weaken the foundations of the Federation. The house started the debate after a break of three days that would be concluded today after Mian Raza Rabbani and Leader of the House Nayyer Hussain Bokhari will speak on the issue. It is likely that Chairman Senate will reserve its ruling on the controversial appointment of leader of the opposition after the conclusion of debate. Dr Babar Awan while supporting the chairmans decision to give the right of vote to senators of FATA in the appointment of leader of the opposition said that they had used their right to vote in all the legislations or resolutions passed by this Parliament. He said that FATA members had the same right that enjoyed any other parliamentarian adding that the formulations on the debate about FATA members should be withdrawn as he had objections over these. These formulations give the impression that FATA was not part of it, he said adding that they had to make sure that FATA members were part of this Parliament. He made it clear before giving his arguments he was giving his input as a lawyer and his party PPP was neither respondent nor party on the issue. FATA members had played their role in the passage of 18th and 19th Amendments, he said asking the chair that whether appointment of leader of the opposition was more serious matter than these landmarks legislations. He said in categorical words that he opposed the idea to disenfranchise FATA members. Dr Babar Awan said that the Constitution determined the composition of the Senate and according to it; eight seats had been reserved for FATA. In addition to that, he referring Article 25 of the Constitution said that all citizens were equal before law and had the right to vote. He while quoting Conduct of General Elections Order 2002 said that FATA members had the right to vote adding that it could not be argued while referring Constitution that FATA members had no right to vote. About the right of vote to PML-Q dissidents, he argued that whether the status of a political party could be determined except its leader and whether a political party was any entity or not. While answering in the same breath, he said that political parties were legal entities in Pakistan and the members of this House were nominated by political parties. The question before the House is that whether a single political party can sit simultaneously on opposition and treasury benches, he inquired from the chair whether a political party can either sit on treasury benches or opposition benches. He said that the office-bearers of PML-Q were sitting on treasury benches and then how some of their dissidents could sit on opposition benches. If someone has differences with his party, the only way is to resign from the party and again try its luck, he argued. He said that if nine PML-Q dissidents could vote for the appointment of leader of the opposition, then the whole party could vote for this slot as well. Dr Awan before concluding his arguments pointing towards PML-N said that if someone wanted to go to the court on this issue, then one could go as access to justice was the right of every one but that the matter of Parliament could not be taken into the court constitutionally. He remarked that the chairs first decision to appoint Maulana Ghafoor Haideri was right, this debate could be academic exercise but the matter could not be challenged in any court of law. JUI-Fs Azam Khan Swati, the second and last key speaker, taking part in the debate said that the June 6 decision of the Senate Chairman regarding the nomination of the opposition leader was in accordance with the Constitution. He argued that the election of opposition leader from the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal was the right decision as it was the single largest opposition party in the Upper House with maximum numerical strength. Azam Swati said the Senate Chairman had powers to give an opinion on the election of opposition leader, which should be honoured and respected. The chairman is the custodian of this house and has the right to interpret the law. His decision on any controversial issue should be taken as a final opinion, he added. He viewed that all the members of Upper House had the right to vote in case there was any motion, resolution, bill or any amendment. However, members sitting on treasury benches could not vote for the appointment of opposite leader. He said the PML-Q was sitting on treasury benches, so its members had no right to vote for the opposition leader, he added. Swati said that since the Senate Chairman had given a ruling on the opposition leaders appointment so it could not be changed as it would set a bad precedent. Swati said, We will have to uphold the norms of Parliament, democracy, justice, Constitution and law. Swati urged upon the Chairman Senate that authority of his position could not allow him to change his decision. He argued that no one (senator) could enter into a controversial debate over the ruling of the chair. Decision of the chair in any manner and whatsoever cant be challenged, Swati quoted an excerpt.