ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif on Monday drew the attention of the National Assembly Speaker to what he called ‘illegal appointment’ of the National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) chairperson after the opposition parliamentarians’ written request for remedy in this regard failed to yield desired result.
In a letter to Speaker Asad Qaiser, Shehbaz Sharif wrote that the appointment had been made in derogation of the law/rules and by ignoring majority opinion/vote.
He demanded that the NA speaker provide a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the parliamentary committee for appointment of the NCSW chairperson, alleging that the parliamentary committee head, Senator Falak Naz, prepared the minutes of the meeting as per her “own whims and wishes”.
The parliamentary committee had met earlier in June for hearing and confirmation of nominees for the position of NCSW chairperson. At the conclusion of the meeting when Senator Naz called voting, Fozia Viqar secured six votes and Nilofer Bakhtiar five.
Asks NA speaker to respond to the written request of parliamentary panel members
Ms Bakhtiar, who received votes of MNAs Asma Hadeed, Shaheen Naz Saifullah, Nuzhat Pathan, Farrukh Khan and Senator Sana Jamali, had allegedly lost the election against Ms Viqar who secured votes of MNAs Dr Nafisa Shah, Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha, Tahira Aurangzeb, Shahida Akhtar Ali and Senators Nuzhat Sadiq and Abida Mohammad Azeem as per the count, but then the parliamentary committee chairperson insisted on casting her vote in favour of Ms Bakhtiar.
The opposition leader informed the NA speaker that the committee members brought rule 6(4) of the parliamentary committee on appointment of NCSW chairperson rules into the knowledge of Ms Naz in this regard, but she did not pay heed.
According to the rules, “the chairperson shall, in the event of equality of votes, have a casting vote”, Mr Sharif said, explaining that the insistence to cast vote by the parliamentary committee chairperson had no validity of law whatsoever, rather the same was in derogation of ethos of democracy and majority rule, which is bedrock of democracy.
He alleged that instead of protecting the sanctity of the vote, the chairperson stifled the whole process in order to secure the appointment of the ruling party’s blue-eyed candidate as NCSW chairperson.
He wrote: “It has now come to my knowledge that the chairperson of the committee prepared the minutes of the meeting as per her own whims and wishes and declared Nilofer Bakhtiar as returned candidate, who has also been appointed Chairperson of NCSW, through a notification on July 28, 2021.
“Needless to add that in a democratic system the decisions are made by majority and minority cannot impose its decision upon majority. The appointment of chairperson of NCSW has to be made through a process, which is provided in law and despite securing majority votes Fozia Viqar has not been appointed as chairperson.”
The opposition leader said the conduct of the parliamentary committee chairperson was unbecoming of a parliamentarian and that could not be appreciated at any score. “This matter was also brought into your notice through a letter written by senators and members of the National Assembly belonging to the opposition, who are members of the parliamentary committee. They have also requested your good office to provide a verbatim record of proceedings of the meeting but no heed has been paid to this aspect or no action has so far been taken by your esteemed office,” he said.
He requested the NA speaker that their letter should be responded to along with a copy of the said verbatim of the meeting. Mr Sharif said: “I, being leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, find myself constrained to bring these illegalities into your notice for being custodian of the House and urge [you] to take immediate action to remedy this wrong. It is also a legal right of Fozia Viqar that since she secured majority votes, she must be notified as NCSW chairperson without further loss of time.”
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021