JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks at the multiparty conference in Peshawar on Saturday. — White Star
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks at the multiparty conference in Peshawar on Saturday. — White Star

PESHAWAR: Participants of a multiparty conference led by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl have alleged that the government has intentionally initiated discussion on the 18th Constitutional Amendment and National Finance Commission Award to divert the people’s attention from coronavirus pandemic.

The moot was held here on Saturday with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the chair to discuss the situation arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and decide the future course of action against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government over administrative changes to the NFC and alleged plan to amend the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

Prominent among participants were JUI-F general secretary Ghafoor Haideri, Jamaat-i-Islami provincial chief senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and provincial chief Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, Pakistan Peoples Party provincial president Mohammad Humayun Khan, former provincial chief Prof Mohammad Ibrahim, Awami National Party provincial general secretary MPA Sardar Hussain Babak and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz provincial general secretary MNA Murtaza Javed Abbasi.

Mr Fazl later read out a joint communiqué declaring that the government imposed on the nation had proved its incapability to fulfil commitments and had attempted to divert the people’s attention from core issues by intentionally bringing 18th Amendment and NFC Award under discussion.

MPC alleges matter raised to divert people’s attention from pandemic

He rejected the formation of the 10th National Finance Commission saying the forum doesn’t have true representation of the provinces to raise their issues.

The JUI-chief said the matter of NFC Award was sub judice, so the government should stop working on it.

He said technical board member of the NFC should be appointed in consultation with the relevant provincial governor, government and opposition.

“The 10th NFC should comprise provincial finance ministers,” he said, adding that the appointment of premier’s aide Dr AbdulHafeez Shaikh to the commission should be withdrawn for being unconstitutional.

The JUI-F chief called for an increase in the provinces’ share in the 10 NFC Award under Article 160(1) A of the Constitution.

He expressed concern about the growing Covid-19 incidence in the country and said the entire responsibility of the crisis rested with the government for rejecting the opposition parties’ unconditional offer for complete cooperation to control the disease.

Mr Fazl said despite the government’s irresponsible attitude, the opposition parties continued supporting the virus-hit families by providing them with ration, cash and other relief goods generously.

He said the multiparty conference appreciated the role of the Sindh government for Covid-19 control and praised doctors and health workers for performing duty on the front line in the fight against the virus by providing patients with medical treatment.

The JUI-F leader said the moot also resented the problems facing overseas Pakistanis due to the prolonged lockdown and joblessness and urged the government to ensure that they and the bodies of Pakistani virus victims return without delay.

He said the conference suggested round-the-clock opening of embassies and airports, especially Peshawar and Islamabad airports, resumption of international airlines to facilitate the Pakistanis stranded abroad, and 50 per cent discount in air tickets for them.

The participants also demanded the reopening of all private educational institutions and seminaries under SOPs, payment of Rs500 billion power royalty dues to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and waiver of the three months electricity bills in line with the premier’s announcement.

They called for an end to the National Accountability Bureau cases against the opposition parties’ leaders, smooth supply of petroleum products and wheat flour to the people, checking of price hike and stern action against hoarders and profiteers.

The multiparty conference also demanded the protection of people, restoration of durable peace and the rule of law in the newly-merged tribal districts and immediate financial assistance for the people hit by coronavirus and lockdown.

It declared that the case against Supreme Court Justice Faiz Essa was based on mala fide intent, so it showed solidarity with the judiciary for its independence.

The participants agreed that under Article 158 of the Constitution, the province in which the well head of natural gas was situated would have precedence over others, so the government should give gas connections and royalty to that province on priority basis.

They also formed a six-member committee to contact central leaders of various political parties for creating consensus to hold such moots at provincial level and discuss national issues.

The committee members include Mr Fazl, Aftab Sherpao, Asfandyar Wali, Sirajul Haq, Humayun Khan and Javed Abbasi.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2020