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Mian Raza Rabbani (1953- )
Main Raza Rabbani was born on 23rd July 1953 in Lahore. He spent his childhood in Karachi. He has been one of the most effective politicians to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions. He studied law at Karachi University. After completing his studies, he started practicing law and was made president of the Karachi chapter of the Peoples Lawyers Forum and then president of its Sindh chapter. He has been affiliated with Pakistan People’s Party since his student days. He was a core team member of Benazir Bhutto who had appointed him the party’s deputy secretary-general in 1997 and leader of the opposition in the senate in 2005. He was elected Senator from Sindh, seven times since 1993. He was appointed as the State Minister of Law and Justice and later, the Minister of Interprovincial Coordination in the Cabinet.
Main Raza Rabbani has served as the Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan after being elected unanimously from the house. He performed outstanding work from 2015 to 2018. He has been elected a Senator again in the 2018 Senate elections and enjoys high credibility, pride, and ownership of the Senators from all parties and all provinces. He is popular respected by the provincial leadership. He has always stood for the rights and autonomy of the provinces. Mr. Rabbani is considered to be the main architect of the historic 18th amendment, the Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i- Baluchistan and the Charter of Democracy, signed between PPP and PML-N in 2006. The most important one is the recommendation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment. Mean to say that he led the process of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which was the landmark in the history of Pakistani politics and brought back distorted constitution close to its original parliamentary spirit and gave the provinces their rights through devolution of powers.
He strengthened the Senate as an institution by getting it more authorities and political space and brought people close to the parliament through various initiatives, which included making the Senate more transparent, sharing the history of the constitution and the Senate through displays for people to visit. He began to acknowledge citizens who struggled for democracy. He continues to make political statements as guidance to exercise the democratic process of Pakistan towards the true spirit of democracy. He expressed that he would make Senate an “effective” institution.
“I will try to run the Senate in accordance with rules and laws, and will not discriminate while running its business. For me, everyone will be equal in the house,” he added.
He said the basic job of parliament was legislation and he would try to ensure that the Senate performed this duty in a better way and for the betterment of the general public. We can say that performance of the Senate itself was outstanding during the tenure of Chairman Raza Rabbani. He formed new committees which provides annual reporting to the house and which made the house more efficient and professional. He has raised the stature of the Senate and ensuring that the Government is answerable to the house. He expanded the authority and the scope of the house. Through a resolution, the proposed amendments that the house desires for the Senate to be a strong institution and can protect the rights of the provinces better.
The achievements of Senator Main Raza Rabbani are not only linked to his position as the Chair of the Senate. As the head of the Committee on National Security, his work was wonderful. His strong recommendations for dealing with the security situation and the guidance he gives from time to time for the democratic institutions having great significance. He is the most and efficient Parliamentarian in Pakistani history. He was among the PPP’s old guards who faced problems in adjusting with Mr. Zardari and his politics of reconciliation following the Dec 27, 2017 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He was against those actions which were not favorable for party interest. He was not a yes-man and never enjoyed the same level of confidence and trust which Mr. Zardari once had in Babar Awan, Rehman Malik, and his sister Faryal Talpur.
He was an active member of PPP’s and had dissenting views on various matters that were contradictory to the leadership of the party, such as issues of the 21st Amendment in the Constitution when he was burst into tears while supporting military courts. He was considered to be a man of principles and a “Mr. Clean” of Pakistani politics. He had differences with Ms. Bhutto over striking a deal with then-President Gen Pervez Musharraf and the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2007 as he believed that it was against the spirit of the Charter of Democracy signed between the PPP and the PML-N. He was inducted into the federal cabinet but he resigned in May 2011 in protest against Mr. Zardari’s decision to forge a coalition with the PML-Quaid.
As head of the parliamentary committee on constitution reforms during the PPP government, he played a key role in developing consensus on some sensitive issues, such as the renaming of the NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the devolution of subjects such as health and education to the provinces. After the PPP lost the May 2013 general election, Mr., Zardari made him an additional secretary-general of the party and assigned him the task of reorganizing the party across the country. Mr. Rabbani’s father, retired Group Captain Ata Rabbani, had the honor of serving as the first aid de camp (ADC) to Quaid-I- Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
As far as his political philosophy is concerned, he is a supporter of socialism, communism, constitutional justice, and left-wing ideas. Due to having left-wing ideas, he always stood against military rules. Mr. Rabbani faced a tough time during the doctoral rule of Gen Zia-ul- Haq and was imprisoned by the military government for speaking out in defense of human rights and his political activism. He struggled against the dictatorship from the platform of the Grand Democratic Alliance and then the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy. Between 2005 and 2008, Mr. Rabbani created a lot of problems for military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf as opposition leader in the Senate and made the Legal Framework Order (LFO) a part of the constitution. He played an active role in the movement for the restoration of the Judiciary from 2007 to 2009.
He is known for his strong anti-US sentiments and for leading the protest against the US drone attacks on Pakistan soil. He has authored a number of books including ‘LFO: A Fraud On The Constitution’ and ‘A Biography Of Pakistani Federalism: Unity In Diversity and Invisible People- Short Stories. He is a recipient of Nishan-i- Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civil award, for his parliamentary work.