close
Tuesday August 16, 2022

Senate passes poll, NAB bills amid PTI protest

The legislation was taken into consideration at once without being referred to the standing committees concerned and sailed through the House a day after being passed by the National Assembly

May 28, 2022
The inside view of the Senate of Pakistan. Photo: The News/File
The inside view of the Senate of Pakistan. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Friday passed two key bills, namely the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, amid noisy protests by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The legislation was taken into consideration at once without being referred to the standing committees concerned and sailed through the House a day after being passed by the National Assembly.

Leader of the House and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar rejected the PTI criticism and made it clear that overseas Pakistanis were not deprived of their right to vote, as torn-up copies of the agenda flew in the House.

In total disregard to the chair's requests, PTI lawmakers gathered near the chairman's podium when the first bill was moved, chanting slogans against what they called imported government and warning that the facility on the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis would not be allowed. They explained that the bill sought to empower the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure voting rights without compromising secrecy.

Senate Opposition Leader Dr Shahzad Waseem said the opposition would not allow anyone to rob overseas Pakistanis of their right to vote or compromise on the use of EVMs. Senator Tarar referred to a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs where a federal minister talked about setting the ECP ablaze. He recalled that then federal ministers Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and Azam Swati were issued notices following a tirade against the ECP and had later submitted written apologies to the electoral body.

PTI's Shibli Faraz rose to criticize Tarar for trying to create an impression as if amendments made to the draft law by the committee were acceptable to him. He also rejected the objections raised by the ECP over the EVMs as a mere piece of paper.

The House once again echoed with shouting as opposition members chanted slogans of “no to imported government” and “no to NRO” (National Reconciliation Ordinance) when the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 was moved in the House. The PTI’s protest continued even after the passage of the two bills, prompting Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to adjourn the House to meet again on Monday at 4pm.

Earlier, during the Question-Hour, the House was informed that a home-driven economic policy would take some time and for the time being, the already continuing policies would be carried forward, as the treasury and the opposition traded allegations on the plundering of the national economy.

“If we are committed to international agencies and the world, we need to honour commitments. There are commitments of the state and not the government,” Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said while answering supplementary questions about the efforts under way to regain economic sovereignty and control over the State Bank of Pakistan. She said a home-grown package of reforms would be taken to the IMF. "Let us call a spade a spade: We need to stand on our feet and put our own house in order first; and there is no possibility of doing away with old policies at once."

To another question, the minister said the PTI government had no resources available to sustain the subsidy on fuel prices announced by it during its last days in power. About the price hike in recent years, she said the monetary expansion was the main factor behind the price hike in Pakistan as the PTI set new records of external debts. She continued that imported inflation was another key factor as over the last three years, Pakistan imported food commodities like wheat and sugar, which was not the case previously, adding that food inflation for the first time overtook the general inflation.

Comments