Senator Mian Raza Rabbani (Urdu: رضا ربانى; b. 23 July 1953) is a Pakistani nationalist–left-wing politician and a constitutional lawyer who serves as the Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan since 12 March 2015; as chairman senate, he is the second in the line of succession to the President of Pakistan.
He served as the chairman of the Senate standing committee on National Security and Constitutional reforms, between 2008 till 2013 and was responsible for the drafting of Amendment XVIII which turned Pakistan from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic. He has been elected a senator six times since 1993 from the Sindh Province. He was a close aide to Benazir Bhutto who had appointed him the party’s deputy secretary general in 1997 and leader of the opposition in the Senate in 2005.
Prior to his work in constitutional politics, he is also a leading nationalist–left-wing figure and has extensively written on the topic of socialism and left-wing ideas. His credentials led to his nomination to the Presidency by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 2013.
Raza 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.
Early life and education
Raza Rabbani was born in Lahore on 23 July 1953 in a Punjabi Arain family. His family moved to Karachi where Rabbani attended the Habib Public School in Karachi, Sindh Province of Pakistan. After graduating from Habib Public School, Rabbani was admitted to Karachi University to study Law and liberal arts in 1976. During his university years Rabbani was politically active, first playing a pioneering role in establishing the National Organization of the Progressive Students and later by also holding the chairmanship position of the Peoples Students Federation (PSF). The PSF is a student union body directly linking to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founded in the 1970s to promote student politics in the country.
In 1988, Rabbani earned BA (Hons) in Economics and a LLB degree in civil law from the Karachi University.
His father, late Group Captain (Retd) Ata Rabbani served as the first ADC (aide de camp) to Pakistan's founder and first Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Political activism in national politics
Rabbani was expelled from the Karachi University by the behest of military government of President General Zia-ul-Haq in 1981. He was imprisoned by the military government for raising the voice for the human rights and for his avid democratic activism. In 1988, he started his career as a law professional along with sustaining his political activism from the platform of Pakistan Peoples' Party.
Through the PSF activism Rabbani became a member of the PPP in 1988 and was elected through the PPP platform after contesting in general elections in 1988. Ultimately, he served as adviser on cooperative society affairs to Chief Minister of Sindh until 1990.
After earning a degree in Law from Karachi University, he started his political activism through the PPP platform in 1988; he rose to become a high-ranking member of the central committee of the PPP. After successfully contesting in general elections in 2008, he has been tenuring as the chairman of the parliamentary committee on national security and constitutional reforms; his major constitutional contributions includes his work on the 18th amendment, of which he strongly lobbied for the amendment to be part of the Constitution of Pakistan, and later helped reform and re-evaluate the foreign-domestic policies of the government.
Law ministry and parliamentary services
In 1993, he again contested for the general elections held in 1993, and later proceeded his career in the Senate. He served as the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Sports and Culture until 1994 when he was appointed Minister of Law and Justice by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. As Law minister, he played a crucial role in drafting the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, which was aimed to reserved seats for women in the National and the provincial assemblies. Due to political pressure exerted by the conservative circles, the bill was withdrawn from the parliament. His tenure was abruptly ended when PPP's own elected President Farooq Leghari dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1996 and called for new elections in 1997.
After the general elections in 1997, Rabbani joined the parliamentary opposition session led by Benazir Bhutto; ultimately becoming the deputy leader of the opposition. From 1996–99, he served as an important member of Senate Committee on Information and Mass–media Broadcasting and the Senate Committee on Foreign and Geostrategic Affairs. During this time, he campaigned and lobbied against the passing of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendment to the Constitution; eventually writing to President Rafiq Tarar to veto the bill.
In 2005–08, he led the opposition session as the leader of opposition in the Senate, and was earned public notice for his fierce opposition against President Pervez Musharraf. Often speaking at the country's news channels, Rabbani harshly criticised the LFO, 2002, noting that "Musharraf's insistence that the LFO is a part of the Constitution was unconstitutional in itself. From 2008 until 2009, he led the PPP session as the leader of house in the Senate. For a short time in 2010, he has also served as Advisor to the Prime Minister on Inter-Provincial Coordination until resigning in 2011.
Views on national security
Despite his disagreements with PPP's leadership, Senator Rabbani was named by the President to be the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform in 2008.
His services and credentials led to his simultaneous appointment to the chairmanship of the Beginning of the Rights of Balochistan where he worked on presenting a package to redress the problems of the Balochistan Province to the joint sessions of the Parliament. Despite his recommendations, none of the provisions in the packages would be carried out by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani who would later entangle with the Supreme Court over the missing persons scandal. In 2003, Rabbani demonstrated his opposition against the Iraq war in 2003, over the issue of its nuclear program.
About the atomic proliferation issues, Rabbani criticised the President Pervez Musharraf in the news channels and publicly supported the case of Dr. AQ Khan against President Musharraf. While calling for moral responsibility of nuclear weapons and security, he reportedly marked his words over this issue as the "propaganda against Pakistan" in the Western Media about terrorism and nuclear weapons, raising legitimate apprehensions in the minds of Pakistanis."
During the height of the United States-Pakistan border confrontations, Rabbani declared to the media about the shift-changing policy of Pakistan as United States' ally and quoted: "We need to prioritize our own national-security interests. As far as the U.S. is concerned, the message that has gone with this resolution will definitely ring alarm bells, vis-à-vis their policy of bulldozing Pakistan."
In April 2011, Rabbani also heavily criticised the US over their drone operations in North-Western Pakistan in the Parliament, commenting that United States is following a major violation of international law and human rights.
Writings and political philosophy
Rabbani has written in support of socialism, communism, constitutional justice, and left-wing ideas. In 2003, he authored a book, "LFO: a fraud on the Constitution", in a direct opposition to President Pervez Musharraf and a scheme of legitimising his rule.
In response to insurgency situation in the country, Rabbani reputedly declared that "Politico-religious parties and right-wing political groups are conniving with the establishment to damage and weaken left-wing parties." His statement came during the 2013 general elections, in which, left-wing parties were under immense pressure from the right-wing insurgent groups to limit their political campaigns. Rabbani later accused the international community for supporting the conservative parties in an opposition against the leftist parties. While accusing former president Parvez Musharraf for supporting the ultra-conservative alliance to curb the left-wing parties, Rabbani, with another Marxist Taj Haider, accused the West and the United States of supporting right wing parties for their bid in the elections.
He is also the author of political philosophy books:
- Rabbani, Mian Raza. A biography of Pakistani federalism : unity in diversity. Islamabad: Leo Books. ISBN 9693705505.
- Rabbani, Mian Raza (2003). LFO : a fraud on the Constitution. Q.A. Publishers. p. 241.
- Mian Raza Rabbani; Fouzia Saeed; Maliha Hussain. Raza Rabbani : a national hero. Islamabad: Mehergarh Research and Publications. ISBN 9699659084.
- ^ "Profile of Career of Rabbani" (PDF). Profile of Career of Rabbani. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- ^ Bhutto, Benazir (1989). Daughter of the East (Reprinted ed.). London: Mandarin. ISBN 0749300752.
- our correspondent (3 February 1999). "Opposition condemns govt for baton-charging journalists". The News International. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- ^ Staff Report (25 April 2003). "Opposition seeks resolution of LFO deadlock: Rabbani". Daily Times, Pakistan. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- NEws Desk (at: 2000 PST, Thursday, 18 March 2010). "PM appoints Senator Raza Rabbani as Advisor". GEO News. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Hoodbhoy, Nafisa (2010). Aboard the democracy train : a journey through Pakistan's last decade of democracy. London: Anthem. ISBN 0857289675.
- Hasnat, Syed Farooq. Global security watch—Pakistan. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger. ISBN 0313346984.
- Researcher, ed. by CQ. Issues in peace and conflict studies : selections from CQ researcher. Los Angeles: SAGE. ISBN 1412992915.
- Kabir, Nahid Afrose. Young American Muslims : dynamics of identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748669930.
- Rabbani,, Mian Raza (2003). LFO : a fraud on the Constitution. Q.A. Publishers. p. 241.
- ^ GM Jamali (7 May 2013). "Establishment wants right-wing in power: Rabbani". Express Tribune, 7 May 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Ali, Rabbia (30 April 2013). "United we stand: The Left-wing!". TEX. Retrieved 27 July 2013.