close
Monday January 24, 2022

Govt wants negotiations despite Opposition's vow to challenge bills in court

Fawad Chaudhry asks Opposition to change strategy, says they "cannot defeat government"

By Web Desk
November 17, 2021
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry addressing a press conference in Islamabad on November 17, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry addressing a press conference in Islamabad on November 17, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive

The government on Wednesday sought reconciliation and asked the Opposition to come to the negotiating table after it announced it will  challenge in court the bills that were passed in today's joint Parliament sitting.

The government successfully passed amendments to the Elections Act, 2017, allowing use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and giving the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis, via The Elections Second Amendment Bill, 2021.

The International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2021 — which allows the right to review and reconsideration to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav — was also passed in the Parliament.

Chaudhry asks Opposition to change strategy

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, addressing a press conference in Islamabad, said the Opposition should change its strategy and sit with the government on the negotiating table.

The information minister, refuting the Opposition's claims of fewer votes available to the government, said the government's alliance had secured 233 votes in the joint sitting, as it also had an edge in Senate.

"The Opposition should stop being so stubborn and admit it cannot defeat us," he said.

Chaudhry said the next general elections would be held through the EVMs. He said that due to the Opposition's "attitude", the government was "forced to pass the bills unilaterally".

Explaining a technical matter related to the electoral amendment bill, he said overseas Pakistanis would vote via i-voting (involving the use of the internet), while local citizens would cast their ballot through EVMs (an electronic procedure).

The information minister said bills related to the rights of women and children were also passed in the Parliament today, adding that PTI had, for the first time, passed bills pertaining to inheritance.

Taking a jibe at the Opposition, Chaudhry said they had made a schedule: "For one week, they will speak against institutions, and in the next week, against someone else."

"They (Opposition) will see an increase in their setbacks in the days to come," Chaudhry claimed.

On the Opposition's decision to move the court against the bills, he said both the houses had approved the legislation, so it would not be an easy task" to challenge them.

"Both the houses have passed the bills [...] it will be hard to challenge them, but they can be challenged," he added.

'Opposition's votes counted were far few than actual numbers'

Earlier, speaking to media outside Parliament, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, had said legislation was bulldozed today and NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had "trampled" Parliamentary traditions.

"Legislation cannot take place in such an atmosphere [...] the Opposition's votes counted were far fewer than their actual numbers," the PML-N president said.

Shahbaz said the Opposition told the speaker that the government's votes were not enough to get the bills passed, but the speaker "did not listen to us".

"We believe three or four additional votes were counted in favour of the government," he said, adding: "We had more than 200 lawmakers in the house today."

Bilawal says Opposition to challenge bills at every forum

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, meanwhile, said the Opposition would challenge the bills passed in the lower house, as the government "did not have enough votes" to get them passed.

"The NRO to Kulbhushan Jadhav, election amendment bill, and all other bills will be challenged at every forum," Bilawal said, speaking to media outside Parliament.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto (left) and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif speaking to media outside Parliament in Islamabad on November 17, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto (left) and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif speaking to media outside Parliament in Islamabad on November 17, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive

"The government did not emerge victorious today in the parliament," Bilawal said.

Bilawal said he "tried his best" to draw the attention of the treasury benches and the NA speaker towards the joint sitting's rules, lamenting that they paid no heed to it.

The PPP chairman explained that according to the law, more than half of the combined votes of a joint sitting were required to get a law passed in the Parliament.

Explaining further, he said the treasury benches needed a minimum of 222 votes to get a bill passed in a joint session, where 342 lawmakers were from the lower and 100 from the upper house.

However, he said that the government did not have enough numbers to get the bills passed.

'Government managed legislation'

JUI-F's Maulana Asad Mehmood slammed the NA speaker and said the manner in which parliamentary proceedings had been conducted was never witnessed before.

"The speaker did not give a chance to the Opposition to speak [...] the government 'managed' the legislation, and we will challenge it every forum," Maulana Mehmood said.