Fawad slams decision to convene parliament’s session

Updated Jun 04 2020

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Says reports suggest that a number of NA Secretariat staff members have also tested positive for the virus. — APP/File
Says reports suggest that a number of NA Secretariat staff members have also tested positive for the virus. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has opposed the government’s decision to convene the physical sessions of the two houses of parliament and called for holding virtual sittings.

Talking to Dawn on Wednesday, he said five lawmakers had died due to coronavirus and nearly three dozen others had tested positive for the virus. Moreover, he said he had reports that a large number of employees of the National Assembly Secretariat had also been affected by Covid-19.

“Convening of the physical sessions under these circumstances is very dangerous,” the minister said, who had taken the same position when the government had to convene sessions of the two houses last month on the demand of opposition parties.

The minister had stayed away from the sittings and once again declared that he would not attend the forthcoming sessions, too.

Responding to a question, the minister rejected the opposition’s notion that rules and constitution did not allow holding of virtual sessions. He said under the Constitution, the president could summon the NA and the Senate at any “place” and the term “virtual” should be considered a “place.”

The minister was of the view that there must be “dynamic interpretation” of the rules and the constitution as happened all over the world.

Mr Chaudhry also criticised Speaker Asad Qaiser and the then minister for parliamentary affairs Azam Swati for not including him or the minister for the information and technology in the parliamentary committee constituted to discuss the plan for holding the virtual sessions.

“This shows the seriousness on the part of the speaker and the parliamentary affairs,” Mr Chaudhry said.

On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) criticised the minister for opposing the physical sessions of the two houses of parliament.

“Mr Fawad Chaudhry issues such statements as he wants to be in media limelight,” said PML-N’s information secretary and MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb when contacted to seek her views on the minister’s remarks.

Ms Aurangzeb said that it was strange that the government ministers had to take the support of the main media or social media to communicate with the prime minister.

Similarly, when contacted, PPP’s information secretary and MNA Dr Nafisa Shah also expressed her surprise over the minister’s demand.

Dr Shah said the government had already taken a number of steps and announced major plans without the approval of the parliament.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020