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Pakistan

Virtual session: Opposition mulls over legislation in Parliament

  • Participants say the opposition won’t support the government on personal grounds but can hold talks over the improvement of a law
Published November 14, 2021
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The opposition parties held a virtual session of the steering committee and mulled over the legislation in the Parliament, it was reported on Sunday.

The committee’s session was attended by former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gillani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former speaker Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Shiza Fatima, Shazia Marri, Kamran Murtaza, Sherry Rehman, and Shahida Akhtar Ali.

During the session, the opposition held a discussion over a letter written by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to the Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, seeking the opposition’s cooperation in the legislation including the electoral reforms bill.

All political parties must come forward for electoral reforms, says Fawad

The participants of the session were of the view that the legislation should be held in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution and the law. “The government wants to violate the spirit of the Constitution over the appointment of the NAB chairman,” the steering committee observed.

“The opposition won’t support the government on personal grounds but can hold talks over the improvement of a law,” the committee members said in their stance.

Reply to NA speaker's letter

The opposition in its reply, stated that the proposed draft laws were referred to the joint session of the Parliament. It added that the purpose of the committee has lost which was constituted to build consensus on legislation.

The opposition said that the NA speaker had constituted a committee for legislation on June 23 to mull over 21 draft laws approved by the National Assembly on June 10. The opposition said that the federal government has not followed the prescribed procedures regarding the 21 draft laws.

It further stated that three sessions of the committee were held on June 9, August 30 and September 9, whereas, no session was held during the past eight weeks.

In its letter, the opposition said that due to the non-cooperation of the government lawmakers, the framework of the regulations was not finalised.

The opposition urged the government to formulate laws after building consensus and consultation in view of the public interests.

The opposition parties asked the government to mull over the recommendations tabled by the committee comprising of legislators from both houses of the parliament.

It stated that the government should finalise the proposed laws including elections amendment bills. Moreover, the committee should unanimously approve the prescribed reforms after reviewing it.

The opposition suggested to constitute a committee like the previous committee constituted on July 25, 2014. The previous committee had organised 117 sessions besides unanimously approving electoral reforms on November 20, 2017.

The opposition parties urged the federal government to adopt the parliamentary procedures besides building consensus on the matters related to national interests.

On November 13, Fawad Chaudhry said that PTI's core committee wants the proposed electoral reforms to come to the parliament soon, adding that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser is in contact with the opposition to develop consensus over the issue.

He said that the government is trying to create a system that can help in preventing vote-rigging.

Govt postpones joint session of the parliament

Earlier, the government postponed a joint session of the parliament as the coalition parties had reservations about the electoral reforms bill.

The joint session had been called by the government to pass the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance (Amendment) Bill and electoral reforms bill.

On its part, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) continues to reject the PTI government’s electoral reforms and the idea of introducing electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the general election, terming it as the “simplest way to rig the polls.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that over the past 50 years, Pakistan has failed to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections that are acceptable to all parties. Khan said that people who benefit from the corrupt system are opposing the use of EVMs for their vested interests.

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