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ISLAMABAD: Steering Committee of opposition parties has expressed reservations over the inclusion of federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Azam Swati in Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The opposition has also written a reply to Speaker National Assembly (NA) Asad Qaiser’s letter to the Opposition Leader, Shahbaz Sharif, for cooperation on important legislation in joint-sitting of the Parliament.

A virtual meeting of the Steering Committee was held under the chairmanship of former Speaker Ayaz Sadiq here on Sunday.

The meeting was attended by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq, Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb; Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders Yousaf Raza Gillani, Shazia Marri, Sherry Rehman; and Kamran Murtaza, and Shahida Akhtar Ali of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam -Fazal (JUI-F).

The meeting also deliberated on anti-government protest campaign, as well as, on the option of an in-house change.

According to the sources, the opposition parties have expressed concern over the government’s attitude, while the JUI-F has rejected the inclusion of Fawad and Swati in the ECP committee.

The opposition members said that the government included Fawad and Swati, who have in the past threatened the ECP Chief, adding that now these people were being asked to decide on the appointment of the ECP members.

The sources said that the committee also decided that the opposition will support the government on important legislation but the legislation should be in accordance with the constitution and the law.

“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.

The sources said that President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Leader of the opposition in National Assembly Mian Shehbaz Sharif also shared details of the letter sent by the Speaker National Assembly.

After the virtual meeting of the Steering Committee of the opposition parties, a reply was made to the National Assembly speaker’s letter in which he had sought the opposition’s cooperation in legislation.

According to letter which was written to the Speaker, it was stated that the Speaker National Assembly had constituted a Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Business on June 23, 2021 to consider 21 Bills passed by the National Assembly on June 10, 2021 without following the required legislative procedure.

It further stated that the Committee held three meeting on July 9, August 30 and September 9, 2021 whereas, no meeting of the Committee was held during the past 8 weeks. It is stated that the Committee in its three meetings could not even finalize the Terms of Reference for its procedural jurisdiction due to lack of support by the government members. During this period, all Bills which were to be considered by this Committee either lapsed or were rejected by the Senate and were referred to the Joint-Sitting of the Parliament, thus completely negating the purpose for which the Committee on Legislative Business was formed. The opposition believes that issues of National interest, especially legislation with wide-ranging long-term impact on the people of Pakistan should be resolved through consensus oriented consultation; the following process will allow an objective consideration of the various Bills referred to the Joint-Sitting of the parliament.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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