Opposition gets 117 votes against 104 on PML-N bill: Day of defeat for govt in NA

Muhammad Anis & Asim Yasin
Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Only a day after the opposition's decision to adopt a joint strategy in the Parliament, the government twice suffered defeat in the National Assembly on introduction of two private members bills on Tuesday.

The House allowed introduction of one of PMLN member's Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 bill, which would provide amendment in Article 63-A of the Constitution. The PMLN parliamentarian, Javed Hasnain, wanted to introduce the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 as private member but it was opposed by the Parliamentary Secretary for Law Justice, Malika Bokhari.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri ruled that the House had not allowed introduction of the bill after it was presented for voice vote. However, when the PMLN member insisted on its counting, the House allowed its introduction by 117 to 104 votes. The amendment would bars a candidate contesting in general elections on an electoral symbol, to contest polls on any other symbol for next seven years. Ex-speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq termed it the opposition's moral victory. "This is our moral victory over government prior to joint sitting of the Parliament," he said and added the government should resign while accepting its defeat in the House.

On the second instance, PTI's female member Asma Qadeer could not introduce her bill titled the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 after the deputy speaker put it for counting. Following the counting, the chair said the bill could not be introduced as there are more votes against its introduction without informing the House about votes in favour and against the bill.

Meanwhile, according to Geo News, Parliament's joint sitting has been summoned today (Wednesday) on the matters related to Kulbhushen Yadev, EVM and State Bank of Pakistan.

As many as 12 bills were introduced by private members in the House including the International Institute of Science, Arts and Technology Bill, 2021; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which pertains to appointment of judges in Supreme Court and High Court through Federal Public Service Commission; the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 for amendment in Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and Qanun-e- Shahadat Order, 1984; the National Commission for Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The House also referred three bills to joint sitting of the Parliament, which were passed by the National Assembly and not okayed by the Senate within 90 days. They included the Al-Karam International Institute Bill, 2020, the Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill, 2021. Other bills introduced in the House include the Pakistan Environmental Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021; the Islamabad Water Conservation Bill, 2021; the Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2021; the ICT Rights of Persons with Disability (Amendment) Bill, 2021; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021] (Amendment in Article-168) to provide for appointment of Auditor General of Pakistan by the Parliament; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 for amendment in Article 62. The National Assembly also passed the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2020 moved by PPP parliamentarian Abdul Qadar Patel.

Mohsin Dawar demanded debate in the National Assembly on Pakistan's policy regarding Afghanistan and developments taking place in the neighbouring country. He said Parliament has become dysfunctional and the supreme institution of elected representatives was yet to be taken into confidence about Pakistan's policy regarding Afghanistan and talks with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

A PTI parliamentarian, Lal Chand, strongly condemned the brutal killing of Nazim Jokhio in suburbs of Karachi allegedly by some Sindhi landlords. He demanded of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take notice of the tragic incident and order a committee to inquire into killing of innocent people, including a female MPA, journalists and young people by landlords under the patronage of Sindh Police. "The Sindh government is acting as a silent spectator to all such criminal acts," he said. He said that Nazim Jokhio was kidnapped and tortured to death by landlords after he attempted to stop their foreign guests from hunting. According to the postmortem report, every bone of the murdered youth who was kept in illegal custody at a farmhouse, was broken due to excessive torture. Lal Chand said parts of Sindh have become state within the state and there was lawlessness everywhere. The PPP Parliamentarians, MNA Abdul Qadar Patel said the Sindh government took a serious notice of the incident and an FIR was registered on the complaint of the aggrieved family.

PMLN leader Ahsan Iqbal, while speaking on a point of order, protested against disappearance of paracetamol and panadol meant to treat fever, from the government stocks and market. "This is highly regretful that these two common medicines are not available at a time when cities of Punjab are under attack of dengue fever," he said.

He told the House that 30 million tablets of these two medicines have disappeared from the stock. He asked the government to take notice of the situation and ensure their availability in the market. "On the one hand, people are dying of dengue fever and on the other hand government people are enjoying Qawalis," he said.

Meanwhile, the opposition decided to give a tough time to the government in the parliament on legislation and formed two committees on Tuesday as the first committee will liaise with government allies on the issue of NAB and electoral reforms and the second committee will take steps to challenge possible legislation by the government in the joint sitting of the parliament.

A meeting of the Steering Committee of the opposition was held on Tuesday and attended by Opposition Leader in Senate Yusuf Raza Gilani, Khursheed Shah, Senator Sherry Rehman and Shazia Marri from the PPP. From the PML-N, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khwaja Asif, Ayaz Sadiq and Marriyum Aurangzeb and from the JUI-F, Senator Kamran Murtaza and Shahida Akhtar attended the meeting.

It was decided that the first committee will make contacts with government allies and annoyed members of the PTI on the issue of NAB and electoral reforms. While the Legal Committee will be comprised of Senator Farooq H Naik, Senator Azam Nazir Tarar and Senator Kamran Murtaza.

According to sources, it was decided in the meeting that both the committees will report to the steering committee and the string committee will directly report to the top leadership of the opposition. The steering committee got an important task as its first responsibility would be to ensure complete numbers of all opposition PMs during the joint sitting of the parliament.

The sources said it was decided that if the government forcibly passes electoral reforms and NAB laws, the Supreme Court will be approached. It was decided to thwart legislation by the government as it wants to pass 30 bills in the joint sitting of the parliament. It was resolved that the opposition will not allow Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government to take an ‘NRO’ and the government’s anti-people agenda will be resolutely opposed.

Talking with newsmen after the meeting, Yusuf Raza Gilani said the opposition would foil attempts to bulldoze the parliament. “The opposition is united against the government in the parliament,” he said. Asked whether the opposition parties are also united outside the parliament, he replied: “For now, we will play our role inside parliament.”