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A day after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced its 'unconditional' support to the proposed amendment to the Pakistan Army Act, party Quaid Nawaz Sharif instructed his parliamentary party 'to be cognizant of the fact that the Parliament should not be seen to rubber-stamp a bill of such importance.' In a letter sent from London to PML-N Parliamentary Leader in National Assembly Khawaja Asif, the former prime minister said that it is not in the interest of any party to show 'undue haste' or 'to bulldoze' the rules and procedures for passage of the bill from the Parliament.

It comes in the wake of widespread criticism on the party following announcing an 'unconditional' support on Thursday to the proposed amendment to the Pakistan Army Act.

The social media that also included the accounts, usually tweeting in support of the PML-N, blasted the party on Thursday when senior party leader Rana Sanaullah told reporters in Lahore that the party has assured an 'unconditional' support to amendments to the Army Act. "It is not in the interest of any party to show undue haste or to bulldoze the rules and procedures. Such important bills cannot be passed in 24 hours or in 48 hours," Sharif wrote to PML-N's parliamentary party leader.

He asked the party to look at the bill "positively for stability in the country." "However, we cannot possibly allow the dignity of the Parliament to be compromised," he asserted.

He suggested that the government should be asked to adopt the procedure for the bill as per parliamentary norms, adding that on Friday (January 3) it should be laid in the National Assembly and referred to the standing committee.

In the meantime, he continued, that political parties will hold their parliamentary party sessions to consider the bill and formulate recommendations for their members on the standing committee. He suggested that Tuesday and Wednesday (January 7 & January 8) should be fixed for the standing committees to consider the Bill and send its report back to the National Assembly. On Thursday (January 9) and Friday (January 10), he added that the National Assembly should consider the bill after a debate and conduct the voting and the same is transmitted to the Senate.

The PML-N leader further suggested that on Monday (January 13), the Senate should send the bill to its standing committee for consideration while on Wednesday (January 15), the Upper House should consider the bill after debate and conduct voting on it.

"This is the minimum possible timeframe for the passage of the Bill with meaningful input from all concerned," Sharif asserted, adding, "We should also be cognizant of the fact that the Parliament should not be seen to rubber-stamp a bill of such importance."

He stated: "The political fallout for all parties will be substantial if parliamentary norms are not properly observed."

Sharif also instructed Khawaja Asif to hold the parliamentary party meeting before the government tables the bill and read out and issue these instructions to all party members in the National Assembly and Senate.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020