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Speaker seeks suggestions for fair GB polls

Top Story

September 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser has invited the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly on Monday to discuss electoral reforms in the upcoming elections in the Gilgit-Baltistan, scheduled to be held on November 15.

In this regard, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar wrote letters to the parliamentary leaders inviting them to attend the meeting.

Asad Qaisar in his message to the parliamentary leaders said that there have been ongoing debates and concerns with regard to holding of fair and transparent elections in Pakistan as well as in the context of upcoming elections of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.

“We, as representatives of people of Pakistan, should effectively address these concerns by proposing suitable mechanisms and amendments to the existing laws/rules/procedures from the apex forum of Parliament,” he wrote in a letter to the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly.

He asked them to share proposals for bringing required reforms in the existing electioneering process in Pakistan as well as for the upcoming elections of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly to introduce more robust, fair and transparent election process. He was certain that with their valuable input and cooperation, they will be able to bring more transparency and fairness in the electioneering in Pakistan and will live up to the expectation of the citizenry.

The Speaker requested them to attend the meeting to share their proposals/concerns and suggest an inclusive mechanism for reforming the election process in Pakistan.

The parliamentary leaders invited to attend the meeting included Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Asad Mahmood of JUI-F, Minister for Housing and Works Chaudhary Tariq Bashir Cheema of PML-Q, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of BNP-M, Dr Khalid Magbool Siddiqui of MQM-Pakistan, Khalid Hussain Magsi of BAP, Ghous Bux Khan Mahar GDA, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of Awami Muslim League, Nawabzada Shazain Bugti of JWP and Amir Haider Azam Khan Hoti of ANP.

Meanwhile, the meeting convened by Speaker National Assembly on Monday (September 28) here at the Parliament House to discuss ways and means for legislation and constitutional amendments pertaining to Gilgit Baltistan (GB) would be boycotted by all opposition parties.

The opposition parties are of the view that speaker has no relevance to the legislation for GB and he doesn’t have mandate of convening such meetings. The speaker, Asad Qaisar issued letter for the meeting after conferring the Prime Minister Friday at the Prime Minister House and issued the letter immediate after that for consultations. Well-placed sources told The News/Jang on Friday evening that the leadership of newly constituted united opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would take a decision today (Saturday) after mutual consultations by its members. The sources pointed out that at the first place PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will have discussion with Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif who has already informed his party Quaid Nawaz Sharif about the invitation and sought his directions on the subject. The sources pointed out that Nawaz Sharif has expressed desire that all eleven parties constituting the PDM should have mutual consultations before considering the invitation. The decision should be taken in unison, Nawaz Sharif advised. He has reminded the PDM leaders about the disputed role of speaker during the process of legislation and his partisan approach in dealing with the Parliamentary affairs throughout two years of the government. The sources said that Shahbaz Sharif is consulting JUI leader Maulana Fazal ur Rehman and it is likely the Maulana would talk to the other member parties of the PDM regarding invitation of the speaker. Maulana Fazal is critical about the role of speaker who according to the opposition stalwart, doesn’t administer justice in transacting the business of the legislature. The sources reminded that the sub committee set up by the steering committee of the opposition under Akram Khan Durrani would also take up the speaker’s invitation. The speaker in his invitation referred to the legislation and reforms for GB status and steps to hold free and fair polls in the area which are due in the wake of completion of PML-N government tenure in the GB.

The elections have been scheduled for November 15. The speaker has invited all Parliamentary Group leaders for the meeting. Interestingly leader of the opposition Shahbaz Sharif has been invited for the meeting but leader of the house Prime Minister Imran Khan is not among the invited. The sources said that the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) will also take decision about its participation in the meeting tomorrow (Sunday) while allies of the government would turn up for the consultative meeting. The JI is also hesitant in attending the speaker meeting. The possibility of calling off the meeting cannot be ruled out due to opposition’s probable boycott of the gathering, the sources added.