Mian Raza Rabbani (Urdu: رضا ربانى; b. 23 July 1953), is a senior senator from the Sindh Province of Pakistan, and the incumbent chairman of the Senate standing committee on National Security and Constitutional reforms, since 2008.
After earning degree in Law from the 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, and later helped reformed and re-evaluate the foreign-domestic policies of the government.
Prior to his work in constitutional politics, he is also a leading nationalist–left-wing figure and has extensively written on topics in socialism and left-wing ideas. His credential led to his nomination to the presidency by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
Early life and education
Born in Lahore, Punjab Province of Pakistan on 23 July 1960, 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 admitted at the Karachi University to study law and liberal arts in 1976. During his collegiate years, Rabbani was politically active, first playing pioneering role in establishing the National Organization of the Progressive Students and later held the chairmanship of Peoples Students Federation (PSF). The PSF is a student union body directly linking to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founded in 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, Group Captain (Rtd) Ata Rabbani served as the first ADC (aide de camp) to Pakistan's founder 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 elected on a 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.
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 vetoed 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 criticized 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 shortly brief 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 entangled 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 criticized President Pervez Musharraf in the news channels and publicly supported the case of dr. AQ Khan against President Musharraf. While calling for moral responsbility 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, raises legitimate apprehensions in the minds of Pakistanis."
During the heights 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 criticized U.S. over their drone operation in North-Western Pakistan in the Parliament, commenting that United States is following a major violations of international law and human rights.
Writings and political philosophy
Rabbani extensively writes 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 legitimizing 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 Prevez Musharraf for supporting the ultra-conservative alliance to curbed the left-wing parties, Rabbani, with another Marxist Taj Haider, accused the West and the United States of supporting the right wing parties for their bid in the elections.
He is also the author of political philosophy books:
- Rabbani,, Mian Raza (2003). LFO : a fraud on the Constitutio. Q.A. Publishers. p. 241..