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December 12, 2018

NA session: Govt, opposition disallow Amend Bill on liquor

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December 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday disallowed introduction of a bill moved by Ramesh Kumar Vankwani seeking amendment in the Constitution to prevent non-Muslims consume alcoholic liquor and its consumption for religious purposes in the country.

-The non-Muslim MNA Ramesh Kumar from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) wanted to introduce a bill for amendment in Article 37 (h) of the Constitution but the same was not allowed by the Parliamentarians with majority voice.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri who was chairing the proceedings disagreed with plea of the mover to put the bill for voting saying the same had been rejected by the House.

Ramesh Kumar who was taken by surprise with response from the Parliamentarians and the Chair, continued to speak from his chair without given the mike saying he had the right to seek voting on the bill.

However, at end of Tuesday’s proceedings, he again submitted the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 with the National Assembly for its reconsideration by lower House of the Parliament.

According to this Article of the Constitution, the State shall prevent the consumption of alcoholic liquor otherwise for medicinal and in case of non-Muslims, religious purposes.

The PTI Parliamentarian through this particular amendment wanted omission of words ‘non-Muslim and religious purposes’. Trying to convince Parliamentarians, Ramesh Kumar said that consumption of alcoholic liquor was not allowed in any religion. Therefore, he said consumption by non-Muslims should also be disallowed. The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says the non-Muslims of Pakistan are facing agony, insult and defamation. “All the religions in Pakistan have agreed that none of religion allows consumption of alcoholic liquor for the religious purposes. So in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the use of alcoholic liquor is Blasphemy Act,” it said.

Ramesh Kumar said that due to misuse of this clause, the wine shops in the country remain open for 365 days a year. Ramesh Kumar, later told ‘The News’ that he also talked to Maulana Abdul Waasay of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) who said he wanted to speak in support of the bill but he was not allowed.

Earlier, the Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, Maleeka Bokhari did not oppose the bill requesting the Chair to refer the proposed legislation to the standing committee. However, the Deputy Speaker put bill before the Parliamentarian to seek their permission for its introduction. Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, however, said a similar bill was moved in the House in the past and it was of no use. The House allowed introduction of another Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 by Ramesh Kumar. The proposed legislation seeks amendment in Article 25B, 51, 63B, 92 and 106 of the Constitution.

The proposed amendments seek establishment of women universities in each city of the country, increase in number of seats for non-Muslims in National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies and right to cast dual vote, one vote for general seats and second vote for reserved seat. Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) also introduced the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeks amendment in the Election Act, 2017 to stop transfer of votes to permanent addresses of voters. Through the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the mover sought increase in provincial assembly seats from one to two.

The JUI-F Parliamentarian Aliya Kamran also introduced the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly was informed that no gas loadshedding is being carried out in any part of the country.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Agha Hassan Baloch, Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan admitted there is issue of low gas pressure in different cities.

He said Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Limited is executing two projects of replacing the old pipelines with new ones at a cost of 2.28 billion rupees.

He said the laying of new pipelines and installations of new compressors will help address the issue of low gas pressure.

The Petroleum Minister said the gas distribution companies have also been directed to check their losses and gas theft.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi told the House a plan will be unveiled in March next year to make National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) more meaningful and vibrant. He said national security is the focus of the government.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said all the stakeholders including the political parties should sit together to formulate a charter of economy.

Responding to the points raised by Ajmal Khan on the problems faced by farmers, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary said the government is giving priority to the uplift of agriculture sector as this sector is also being made part of multi billion dollars China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

On the protest of teachers of basic education community schools at D Chowk in Islamabad, Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood assured that their salaries would soon be paid after approval of over three billion rupees by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council for this purpose.

Meanwhile the members from the opposition parties in the National Assembly while following their joint strategy in the Parliament on Tuesday staged walk out from the House against attitude of the chair.

The opposition parties were protesting against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri for not following order of the day. The parliamentarians from MMA also protested against rejection of a plea from the non-Muslim member Ramesh Kumar to allow voting on an amendment bill.