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September 28, 2020

After boycott decision: NA speaker cancels meeting with opposition leaders

Top Story

September 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser Sunday postponed his meeting with the opposition parliamentary leaders after the combined opposition decided against attending the meeting , which was scheduled to be held today (Monday).

The National Assembly Secretariat Sunday evening made the announcement of postponing the meeting that was convened to discuss electoral reforms and measures concerning Gilgit Baltistan elections.

The announcement did not mention any reasons for postponing the event but it was understood that the meeting was cancelled after all the opposition parties announced their boycott [of the meeting].

According to sources, all the opposition parties are unhappy with Asad Qaiser’s role during the joint sitting of Parliament and accused him of bulldozing the legislation and playing a partial role, ignoring the repeated requests of the opposition for recounting.

Earlier, addressing a press conference here on Sunday, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said all the opposition parties which had participated in the recently held APC would not attend the meeting called by Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser on Monday.

“It is not the authority of the Speaker National Assembly to call a meeting of parliamentary leaders on Gilgit Baltistan. The meeting of parliamentary leaders should only be called by the Leader of the House,” said PPP Secretary General Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and PPPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar while talking with reporters here.

Bukhari said the political parties’ meeting should have been called by the prime minister instead of the army chief. “The prime minister should resign if he was not invited to that meeting or he chose not to attend that meeting because it was an act of undermining political mandate,” he said.

He demanded election in Gilgit Baltistan on time without what it said interference by the agencies and posting of judicial officers as returning officers. He alleged that agencies were distributing health cards and pressurising people which amounted to pre-poll rigging.

He said 12 parties had agreed upon a 26-point communiqué during the September 20 APC and all were bound to act upon the communiqué and the action plan. After the elections, he said measures should be taken to bring Gilgit Baltistan in the national political stream. “The communiqué of the APC also declared that Gilgit Baltistan is a very sensitive area and the interference of agencies should end there so that no one can object to the transparency of elections,” he said, adding that the APC had also decided to keep a close eye on the elections.

Bukhari said the Election Commission of GB was separate from the ECP. “The date of elections is 15th of November and the election process has been started. We demand that instead of officers of administration, judicial officers should be deputed as returning officers,” he said.

He urged the Chief Election Commissioner of Gilgit Baltistan to stop federal ministers from interfering in the elections.

Senator Babar said elections in Gilgit Baltistan were of special importance and the elected assembly of GB would decide the future of GB. “This needs free and fair elections; there should be no interference of any agency in these elections,” he said, adding that only political parties would decide the future of Gilgit Baltistan with the help of its people.