Parliament’s proceedings can’t be challenged in court: govt

Published March 13, 2021
Parliamentarians listen to former minister for finance, economic affairs and statistics Syed Naveed Qamar presenting the national budget 2008-09 during National Assembly session in the Parliament House. - APP/File
Parliamentarians listen to former minister for finance, economic affairs and statistics Syed Naveed Qamar presenting the national budget 2008-09 during National Assembly session in the Parliament House. - APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Despite internal rift over nomination of Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi for the office of Senate deputy chairman, the ruling alliance on Friday managed to defeat the candidates of the opposition Pakistan Demo­cratic Movement (PDM) in the elections for the posts of chairman and deputy chairman and claimed that the proceedings of any of the two houses of parliament could not be challenged in a court of law.

Senator Mohsin Aziz of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who was polling agent of Sadiq Sanjrani in the election of Senate chairman, said in a TV programme that according to Rules of Procedure & Conduct of Business in Senate 2012, the proceedings of the Senate and National Assembly could not be challenged in the court of law.

He rejected the opposition’s contention that seven votes cast in favour of PDM candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani were illegally rejected and said the opposition members had intentionally wasted their votes. “They wasted their votes either under pressure or any commitment as they were not ready to vote for PDM,” he claimed, adding that these seven voters of the PDM came up openly in favour of the government’s candidate for the slot of deputy chairman.

Insiders said there was some reservation in the PTI rank on the nomination of Mr Afridi, but it was later well managed by the party leadership. Some top leaders of the PTI were of the view that the deputy chairman should be from Punjab and had proposed the names of party leaders Ijaz Chaudhry, Saifullah Niazi and Aun Abbas Bappi.

In the morning, the newly elected senators took the oath and later a luncheon was hosted for them at a banquet hall of the Parliament House. Before the election of Senate chairman and deputy chairman, the defence minister took all senators of the ruling alliance to a hall in the Parliament House for a final meeting during which he asked the senators to vote for the government candidates at any cost.

Interestingly, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) removed an ambiguity about its stance on the election shortly before the poll when Senator Faisal Subzwari joined the meeting almost when it concluded.

Some close aides to Prime Minister Imran Khan were standing in the corridor, outside the meeting hall, and passing information on to him through mobile messaging about who was attending the meeting and who turned up there at what time.

Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, who was appointed presiding officer for the election by President Dr Arif Alvi, also attended the meeting as a member of the government alliance (Grand Democratic Alliance from Sindh). He was the first senator who had left the meeting hall. Following the meeting, all the senators went directly to the Senate hall for taking part in the elections.

Later, talking to media outside the Parliament House, Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz said that with the defeat of Mr Gilani in the Senate chairman election, the politics of PDM, which revolved around personal interests, had doomed.

Flanked by Senator Faisal Javed Khan, he said Prime Minister Khan and his allies were striving to ensure transparency in the electoral process by moving a bill in parliament and sending a reference to the Supreme Court.

Mr Faraz said the prime minister had made all-out efforts to stop misuse of money, and sale and purchase of votes in the Senate elections. Accordingly, he added, the government had introduced amendments to the relevant laws in parliament and also approached the apex court for open balloting, but the opposition parties had opposed it.

He said Imran Khan wanted the country to move towards progress and prosperity, by eliminating the old system which had ruined the economy, ethics and democratic norms. On the contrary, those who had opposed transparency in the electoral system were against the country’s progress, he said, adding that the people should strengthen Imran Khan’s hands.

“Gilani’s defeat was in fact the defeat of old corrupt system and the narrative of corrupt politicians and their promoters,” he added.

The minister said the PDM had started its so-called movement from a long march, and then gave a deadline for resignations from assemblies, but nothing had happened so far. He said the opposition parties made a malicious attempt to breach the secrecy of ballot, but it was exposed with the detection of hidden cameras installed by them around the polling booth. “Similar drama was staged by their leaders outside parliament on the day of PM’s vote of confidence.”

Mr Faraz said that with the blessings of Allah Almighty, Sadiq Sanjrani, a brave and upright person, got a success, and those who believed in malpractices were humiliated with replay of their own rejected votes saga.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz should better question its own members whether they had availed the services of Ali Haider Gilani for getting their votes rejected, he added. He said the opposition parties’ corrupt practices could be judged from the fact that they managed to win the Senate seat of Yousuf Raza Gilani despite minimum number of votes in the National Assembly.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2021

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