Govt decides to convene NA, Senate sessions on Oct 14 for 'important legislation'

Published October 12, 2021
The NA and Senate sessions will take place on Thursday evening. — White Star/File
The NA and Senate sessions will take place on Thursday evening. — White Star/File

The government on Tuesday decided to summon sessions of both houses of the parliament on Thursday (October 14).

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan said the Senate session will begin at 4pm, while the National Assembly session will commence at 5pm on Thursday.

He said a summary for convening the sessions had been sent to the president by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

Earlier, Awan held back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan and NA Speaker Asad Qaiser to consult them regarding calling the parliamentary sessions.

During the sessions, "important legislation concerning national affairs will be completed", Awan said in a statement.

While Awan did not specify the legislation which will be taken up, the issues that have been high on the government's legislative agenda are electoral reforms, including the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and I-voting facility for overseas Pakistanis, and an ordinance concerning the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Last week, while vowing to challenge the newly introduced NAB Ordinance at every forum “with full force”, the opposition had submitted a requisition notice to the National Assembly Secretariat for convening the session of the lower house of the parliament to discuss the issue of the extension in the tenure of NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal through the controversial ordinance.

Signed by 156 opposition members, the requisition notice was submitted under Clause 3 of Article 54 of the Constitution under which NA Speaker Asad Qaiser is bound to call the session within 14 days i.e. by Oct 22.

The opposition submitted the notice on the day Awan, after his meeting with the speaker, announced that the government had already decided to call the regular session of the National Assembly on Oct 22.

Last month, Speaker Qaiser had referred seven bills, including two controversial electoral reforms bills and one to provide the right of appeal to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, to the joint sitting of parliament after approval of the motions by the house amid the opposition’s boycott.

The seven bills had been passed by the National Assembly but could not sail through the opposition-dominated Senate within the stipulated 90-day period. The government, which enjoys a majority if the two houses combine together, now intends to get the bills passed from the joint sitting of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.

Thursday's sessions also come as the federal capital has in recent days been gripped with feverish speculation about the delay in issuing a notification for the appointment of the incoming Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmad Anjum by the Prime Minister's Office.

Although Lt Gen Anjum's name as the new ISI chief was announced by the military's media affairs wing last week, no notification confirming his announcement has so far been issued. However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday sought to put the speculation to rest, saying the matter would be finalised through set legal means.

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