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Opposition walks out of NA to protest ‘rules violation’

By Muhammad Anis
October 02, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The combined opposition on Tuesday staged walkout from the National Assembly as a protest against alleged violation of rules to conduct business of the house.

The opposition members, who later returned to proceedings, also attempted to disrupt proceedings as one of their colleagues pointed out lack of quorum which resulted in suspension of proceedings for 20 minutes till the completion of minimum required strength in the house.

PPP parliamentarian Dr Nafeesa Shah, while speaking on a point of order, said 80 per cent of bills on order of the day belong to the treasury benches whereas the private members day meant to accommodate the opposition parliamentarians. She said the government instead of doing legislation believes in promulgation of ordinances while bypassing the parliament. She said 11 ordinances have been promulgated through Shahi Farman.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Khan Swati and Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, while referring to different rules, said the members from the treasury benches also have equal rights on the private members day. Mazari, while negating allegations of the opposition that the government is bypassing the parliament, said it is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who has been blocking 10 bills which are pending with the National Assembly Standing Committee for Human Rights. Bilawal is also doing politics on legislation and has been blocking Zainab Alert Bill and other bills relating to disabled persons, she said.

Despite suspension of proceedings, former speaker Fakhar Imam, who was in the chair, successfully led execution of most of the business as no less than 41 bills, only six of those from the opposition members, were introduced in the house.

PTI parliamentarian Matloob Shah introduced a bill to end death penalty for trans-national organized crimes. According to a statement of objects and reasons, trans-national organized crimes required collection of evidence from several countries. It says the available tool of mutual legal assistance does not bear fruit as the request under this arrangement is not entertained on the ground of apprehension regarding award of death penalty. It proposed to amend the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 by excluding death penalty.

The clause which the mover wanted to insert in Section 3 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 says: “Provided that where an accused has been extradited into Pakistan or brought into Pakistan under any arrangement with a foreign country or authority other than extradition or where against an accused any evidence is used in court which has been obtained from a foreign country, the court, upon conviction, may punish such accused with any punishment provided for that offence except punishment of death.”

Another government lawmaker introduced a bill related to prevention of smuggling of migrants. The statement of objects and reason of the bill said: “Human smuggling does not only affect the life of the person they smuggle, rather this act of intense brutality brings the lives of their families to a catastrophe and a long lasting gap is created between the prosperity and the affected families, so it needs amendment.”

The house, with majority voice, blocked minority member Dr Naveed Aamir Jeeva to introduce the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019. The member wanted amendment to Article 41 and 91 of the Constitution to allow non-Muslims to become prime minister and president of Pakistan. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad opposed the proposed legislation, saying that Pakistan is an Islamic Republic where only a Muslim can be elevated to the slots of the president and prime minister. However, he said the minorities in Pakistan are enjoying complete freedom, security and their rights are being protected.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) member Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali appreciated the stance taken by the minister of state for parliamentary affairs, saying that no law against Islamic values and teachings can be passed, introduced or even debated in the parliament.