ISLAMABAD: In a controversial move, the National Assembly on Thursday passed 11 presidential ordinances within half an hour amid ruckus by opposition members.
The session of the lower house of parliament started after Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the parliamentary committee of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Parliament House, directing the party legislators to get all the bills passed, especially the one aimed at replacing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) with the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). The prime minister remained in his chamber in Parliament House till the session of the lower house was adjourned till 11am on Friday.
Interestingly, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri got the 11 ordinances passed in such haste that no time was given to legislators to hold a proper debate on them. He turned a deaf ear to the opposition members belonging to all main opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — and others who tore up copies of the bills, threw them towards the deputy speaker and converged on the speaker’s dais.
The opposition rejected passage of the ordinances and termed it “unconstitutional” and vowed to bring a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker.
The session started at 4:30pm and soon after commencement, the deputy speaker suspended the question hour and started a 25-point order of the day that carried introduction of four ordinances and four bills. Seven ordinances were later introduced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Swati. These were recently promulgated by President Arif Alvi.
Opposition parties term the move unconstitutional, vow to bring no-trust motion against deputy speaker
The ordinances passed by the assembly were related to conversion of the PMDC into the Pakistan Medical Commission, the protection of whistleblower who will inform about any benami property and asset, rights of ownership of women in property, efficacious and speedy mechanism for issuance of letter of administration and succession certificates, establishment of legal aid and justice authority to provide justice to the poor and vulnerable segments of society, court dress and mode of address to judges, recovery of mortgage-backed securities by financial institutions and the National Highway Safety.
Later, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan at a joint press conference along with Mr Swati justified the passage of the ordinances and said: “The government is amending the century-old laws to make them conversant to the present age and requirements.”
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has brought to an end the status quo by accepting a challenge to provide relief and meet basic needs of the common man,” she added.
Mr Swati said the government had discussed each and every clause of ordinances passed by the assembly on Thursday with the government’s allies and got it passed by majority votes.
Giving details of the ordinances, he said one of the ordinances was related to provide legal aid to the poor and those people who could not afford to get services of lawyers.
Regarding conversion of PMDC into PMC, the minister said unbridled opening of 168 medical colleges in the country had adversely affected the standard of medical education and doctors in the country. “Recently, 6,000 Pakistani doctors have been repatriated from Saudi Arabia,” he added.
He said under the whistle blower ordinance, the government would fully protect those who will inform the government bout any benami property and asset and the informer would get 25 per cent share in recovery on the basis of his information.
Mr Swati said Islam gave due right of women in inheritance and, therefore, an ordinance would ensure this right of women in the country.
He said under an ordinance the convict of NAB cases who committed corruption of over Rs50 million will given class-C in jail.
Meanwhile, some opposition leaders also held a press conference outside Parliament House. They rejected the passage of 11 ordinances in the assembly.
Khawaja Asif of the PML-N said: “The legislation made on Thursday has no legal and constitutional status.”
He accused the government of getting passed 11 ordinances in only half an hour under a “pre-planned strategy”.
Earlier, PM Khan chaired PTI’s parliamentary committee meeting at Parliament House and asserted that all ordinances should be passed by the lower house at any cost.
“The meeting was only focused on the passage of an ordinance related to conversion of the PMDC into the Pakistan Medical Commission,” said Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood while talking to Dawn after the session.
It has been learnt that all mobile phones and even purses of women party leaders were kept outside the meeting hall apparently no one could leak the inside story about the meeting during it. However, the education minister claimed that keeping mobile phones and other gadgets outside the meeting hall was a normal practice which was followed in all parliamentary committee meetings.
One of the significant aspects of the Thursday’s session was that the production order of detained opposition leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Khursheed Shah (PPP) and Khawaja Saad Rafique (PML-N) were issued, but only Mr Rafique attended the session. The two PPP leaders could not attend the session due to their illness.
Two tribal leaders, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who are on bail after being arrested for their alleged involvement in an attack on security forces in tribal area, also witnessed the proceeding of the lower house.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2019