Former PM Abbasi says tenure bills were passed in 'a bit of a hurry'

14 Jan 2020

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PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says he didn't attend the sitting because he hadn't received production orders. — Screengrab from video provided by author
PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says he didn't attend the sitting because he hadn't received production orders. — Screengrab from video provided by author

PML-N senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday said that the bills pertaining to the tenure of services' chiefs were passed in "a bit of a hurry".

Abbasi made the comments on his way out of the Parliament House today, where he had been present all day but had not attended the National Assembly sitting of the ongoing session.

He denied the impression that the PML-N's stance of vote ko izzat do (respect the vote) had been hurt by the party's support for the bills but added: "It was done in a bit of a hurry. It would have been better if some debate was held on the matter.

"No matter what the legislation [is about], it is permanent. There should be debates, discussions should be held in committees. This was an important legislation; it would not have mattered if it took two or three weeks."

The former premier also told reporters that he did not attend the National Assembly sittings during which debate on the bills pertaining to the tenure of services' chiefs was held because he had not received his production orders.

Asked if his party colleague Khawaja Asif, who is also PML-N's parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, was "under pressure", Abbasi said: "You should ask him [about this], why should there be any pressure? There would have been no pressure if a debate was held."

"Party worker is disappointed. People criticise. It is important to respond to criticism," he said.

Though the PML-N had extended full support to the government in both Houses for the smooth passage of the bills, this is the second time a party leader has addressed the urgency with which they were passed. Last week, Rana Sanaullah had said that the PML-N had become part of the government's "undue haste" and termed the move "a bit of an error".

Earlier this month, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence unanimously approved the three bills concerning tenures of the services chiefs and the chairman of joint chiefs of staff committee. They were then tabled in the National Assembly and were passed even though religious party members, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Jamaat-i-Islami and representatives from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), walked out of the NA declaring the lower house to be "fake".

The bills were then forwarded to the Senate, where they were passed in less than 30 minutes.