ISLAMABAD: In a surprise development, the government and the opposition struck a ‘give and take’ deal in the National Assembly on Friday under which the former withdrew all 11 recently rushed presidential ordinances and the latter dropped the no-trust motion against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri.
The lower house of parliament witnessed a rare show of ‘ceasefire’ between treasury and opposition benches as, unlike the past, members from both sides refrained from exchanging harsh words.
The house also took up the horrible issue of abuse of 30 children by an official of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and was told that a “sex offender registry” was being established in the ministry of human rights to control such incidents.
Before the start of the session, the government and opposition leaders held a meeting in the speaker’s chamber on the issue of passage of 11 ordinances by the National Assembly on Nov 7.
In the meeting, chaired by Speaker Asad Qaiser, the government side agreed that the ordinances were bulldozed in “haste” without giving due right to the members and standing committees concerned to hold a productive debate on them.
No-trust motion against deputy speaker dropped
On its part, the opposition assured the government that it was withdrawing the no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker. The meeting decided that some of the 11 withdrawn ordinances would be sent to the standing committees concerned and others would be discussed in the house.
The Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Ordinance, aimed at replacing Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), is one of the ordinances passed on Nov 7 after Prime Minister Khan held a meeting of parliamentary committee of the ruling PTI and “forcefully” asked party legislators that the PMC ordinance must be passed at any cost.
Besides, it was decided that an ordinance related to benami transactions would also be introduced again in the lower house.
Former defence minister Khawaja Asif said the opposition would withdraw the no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker. The motion was submitted last week after Mr Suri refused to pay heed to the opposition parties’ protest as the government passed 11 ordinances just in half an hour without holding a debate on them.
The PML-N stalwart said it had been agreed that the withdrawn controversial bills would be sent back to parliamentary committees.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati, who had introduced the 11 ordinances on Nov 7, said the bills that were passed and ordinances tabled in the assembly would be presented in the parliament again for debate and a consensus would be developed. “A debate will be held on the controversial ordinance, which dissolved the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and paved the way for the establishment of Pakistan Medial Commission,” he added.
He told the House that the government and the opposition had agreed that the Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Ordinance; Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Ordinance; Legal Aid and Justice Authority Ordinance; Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Ordinance would be withdrawn.
Similarly, Benami Transaction (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, and National Accountability (Amendment) Bill would be sent back to the relevant committees, Mr Swati added.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, in a candid way, said the government had decided to improve the assembly’s atmosphere.
PTI MNA Asad Umar hailed the opposition’s gesture to withdraw no-trust motion against Mr Suri and said: “Instead of engaging ourselves in confrontation we should focus on public problems for which the people have given us votes.”
If the opposition also gave up the path of confrontation and a better legislation process emerged, the people would remember that Speaker Asad Qaiser had strengthened the parliament, Mr Umar said. “The legislation done through committees always remains more effective,” he added.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator Aminul Haq urged the government to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to leave the country for medical treatment. This was seconded by Grand Democratic Alliance leader Ghous Bakhsh Mahar who advised the government not to do politics over Mr Sharif’s deteriorating health.
Sex offender registry
The opposition highlighted a recent incident in which an employee of KP government, Sohail Ayaz, had allegedly abused 30 children and questioned how a man with such a shameful character was recruited on a senior position.
PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel said the child abuser was deported from UK after he was convicted in a child abuse case. “How a convicted person can get a job in a government office,” he asked, deploring that the government had no mechanism to check the background of persons at the time of their appointments in government departments.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari admitted that the PTI-led KP government should have run a background check before hiring the man, who was recently arrested for raping a small child for four days and making videos of him, as a consultant for the government.
She, however, claimed that the man was not the employee of the KP government rather a consultant of the World Bank (WB) and was working for a Bank programme. “In such programmes, we [the government] do not hire consultants but the donor agencies do,” she added.
The suspect — who has confessed that he had assaulted 30 children in Pakistan — had served as a consultant for KP Civil Secretariat department and received Rs300,000 per month.
Ms Mazari revealed that keeping in view of increasing child abuse incidents in the country, her ministry was establishing a Sex Offenders Registry (SOR) to collect date of all offenders of child abuse. “The registry will have a close liaison with such registries in other countries and will get information of child abusers from world over,” she added.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2019