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ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of the ongoing debate on the introduction of presidential system in Pakistan, the Senate, Monday, passed a resolution to put its weight behind the parliamentary form of government, resolving to “preserve and protect the parliamentary form of government envisaged in the constitution 1973— as any other form of government will have disastrous consequences for the federation.”

Moved by nine opposition senators, the resolution stated that a systematic campaign in a section of the media and social media was being run to undermine the federal parliamentary form of government.

Through the resolution, the Senate took cognisance that “such a campaign is propagating a presidential form of government— the founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisaged a federal parliamentary form of government as his vision for Pakistan.”

The resolution recalled that the people of Pakistan “relentlessly struggled and sacrificed for a federal parliamentary form of government.…..Pakistan is a participatory federation— the constitution 1973 envisages Pakistan to be a federation, with a parliamentary form of government, trichotomy of power, independence of the judiciary, provincial autonomy and fundamental rights for its citizens.”

According to the resolution, a presidential form of government will introduce a unitary form of government, wherein the “entire constitution of 1973 will be required to be rewritten.”

Parliamentary form of government: Opposition vows support amid wild speculations

The resolution ‘warned’ that given the “intra-provincial and federal provincial polarisation, internal political instability, the regional situation and international attempts at colonisation of Pakistan, will make a national consensus on a new constitution impossible.”

Opposition leader Yousuf Raza Gillani, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman, Shafiq Tareen, Azam Tarar, Mushtaq Ahmed, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Tahir Bizinjo and Hidayatullah Khan moved this resolution that was opposed by the treasury members.

Putting the resolution before the house, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani asked whether it was opposed, to which, Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem nodded in affirmative.

Taking the floor, he urged the house not to pay heed to fake news and trends that originate from social media. “This august house should not be trapped by the fake trends on social media,” he said while opposing the opposition’s resolution.

“There should be a fair and genuine intellectual debate on the floor of the house. Nothing is a divine document. That is why constitutional amendments are brought in Parliament. But we should not fall victim to fake news and superficial trends on social media,” he said.

“I want to categorically make it clear—right here on the floor of the house—that government has nothing to do regarding this debate on presidential system,” Waseem said.

“Democracies worldwide have either of the two systems—presidential or parliamentary—some countries have both these systems – and countries like Turkey have transitioned from one system to another—whatever system a country needs to put in place requires consensus. And in Pakistan, constitution is the consensus document that is the very foundation of our democracy. The constitution has put its weight behind the parliamentary form of government,” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senator said.

Referring to a speech made in National Assembly by the late Benazir Bhutto when she was the prime minister, Waseem quoted her as saying that parliamentary form of government did not work in Pakistan.

Ahsan rules out any possibility of presidential system

“This did not mean that she was against the parliamentary form of government. There was a particular context in which she made this statement that was critical of parliamentary system—so, things need to be seen in the right context and perspective,” he said

Meanwhile, the Senate passed another resolution moved by Zeeshan Khanzada from PTI.

“The Senate of Pakistan is cognisant of the importance of rail connectivity amongst the neighbouring countries for revenue generation, promotion of business and tourism. The house recommends that the government should take steps for running passenger/ freight trains between Quetta and Zahidan to facilitate travelling of ziareen, tourists and business community from Pakistan to Iran and boost trade on the analogy of recently resumed freight service from Pakistan to Turkey via Iran,” the resolution read.

Another resolution moved jointly by some treasury and opposition senators was also passed by the Senate that recommended that parliamentarians accredited/ designated by the foreign governments be appointed as honorary consul general of that particular country in Pakistan “with a view to strengthen the existing people to people contact and improve bilateral / multilateral relations…” Khanzada, Quratulain Marri, Seemee Ezdi, Faisal Rehman and Hidayatullah Khan jointly moved this resolution.

The house is scheduled to meet again today (Tuesday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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