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MA
Muhammad Anis
November 22, 2017

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Nawaz emerges triumphant in NA

Nawaz emerges triumphant in NA

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its allies demonstrating their show of strength in the National Assembly on Tuesday foiled an attempt through an amendment in the Elections Act 2017 to remove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as president of the ruling party with majority vote amid uproar from the opposition benches.
The National Assembly did not allow the consideration of the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 as the opposition’s motion suffered defeat with 163 to 98 votes. Ex-prime minister and veteran politician Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who now a days is critical of his party leadership, voted against the PML-N.
Through the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017, the opposition wanted an amendment in Section 203 of the Elections Act, 2017 which says that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a Member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).
The National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on the basis majority voice decided in favour of ‘No’ to opposition’s motion to move the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017. However, Syed Naveed Qamar of the PPP, the mover of the motion, challenged the announcement and demanded counting of votes.
During speeches in favour of the bill, sloganeering continued from both sides. The chair had to intervene time and again to cool down members of the opposition and treasury benches.
The ruling party having 188 members managed to thwart serious move of the opposition parties with 163 to 98 votes, but could not bring all of its members in the House on the important day. Around 30 members of the PML-N were missing at the time of voting in the National Assembly.
According to official sources, as many as 165 PML-N members were registered in the attendance register on Monday, while 159 of them were present in the House at the time of voting. Former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif were also present in the House while Dawar Kundi, who was expelled by the PTI chairman Imran Khan from the party, voted in favour of the opposition parties. Imran Khan as usual was absent from the House.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was silent spectator to the proceedings, was welcomed by his party members by thumping the desks.
The PML-N having 188 members in the National Assembly is also supported by JUI-F with 13, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party with two, National People’s Party with two, PML-Functional with five, Balochistan National Party, National Party and PML-Zia with one each member.
It may be pointed out here that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi received 221 votes when he was elected as prime minister. At that time, Abbasi enjoyed support of the MQM members.
Naveed Qamar, who wanted to move the bill, said that related section of the Elections Act, 2017 had enabled an elected person, who was disqualified by a court of competent jurisdiction to be a member of the Parliament, to determine the policies and take decisions of any party from outside the Parliament. “The Parliament itself is exposed to becoming hostage to a person who himself is barred from entering it,” he said terming Section 203 as person specific. He said that a person who is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Parliament on account of being disqualified to be a parliamentarian should not become an office bearer of any political party.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the PTI claimed that Section 203 of the Elections Act, 2017 was meant to benefit an individual who was disqualified by the Supreme Court.
He said that Section 203 was a clash with the Constitution and Supreme Court’s verdict, saying the government was moving towards
confrontation with the institutions.
Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah said a law minister who had written emergency orders of a dictator like Pervez Musharraf was now protecting Nawaz Sharif.
Dr Azra Fazal regretted that majority of government members were present in the House when it comes to saving their leader but they are reluctant to turn up whenever the Assembly executes legislation.
Challenging claims and allegations of the opposition’s parliamentarians, Law Minister Zahid Hamid said the amendment bill of the opposition was person specific and it was designed against the PML-N president Nawaz Sharif. He pointed out that the 1973 Constitution also did not bar a disqualified person to be office bearer of a political party. “According to Article 17 of the Constitution, only that person whose integrity with the country is under question, cannot hold office of a political party,” he said.
Coming harsh on the opposition members, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that destiny of the country could not be given in hands of a few people rather there are over 200 million people who are to decide it. He recalled that the opposition parties were trying to revive the same black law of then dictator which was done away by the PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government. “The same black law under the Political Parties Act, 2002 was revived by dictator Pervez Musharraf to keep Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto out of politics,” he said.
Saad Rafique advised the opposition parties to refrain from trying to make such laws which could weaken the democratic system in the country, saying that all the political parties, including the PPP, PML-N, Jamaat-e-Islami and others have struggled against dictatorship.
Shazia Marri of the PPP objected that politicians who supported execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were giving them lessons of democracy. “The same law minister had written emergency orders of a dictator in 2007,” she said.
Arif Alvi of the PTI on a point of personal explanation said he and other opposition members had not supported Section 203 of Elections Act 2017 as claimed by the law minister in his speech.
The opposition’s Elections (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Senate, last month.

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