National Assembly passes NAB ordinance and journalists protection bills

Published November 9, 2021
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari speaks on the floor of the National Assembly on Monday. — Photo via NA of Pakistan Twitter
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari speaks on the floor of the National Assembly on Monday. — Photo via NA of Pakistan Twitter
ISLAMABAD: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari exchange views before the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security on Monday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari exchange views before the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security on Monday.—White Star

• Protection against harassment of women at workplaces, juvenile justice system bills also get nod
• Opposition points out quorum twice

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday passed seven bills, including one related to three recent amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO-1999) that gave extension in service to the incumbent NAB chairman and its prosecutor general.

Among these bills was one related to protection of journalists. The recently promulgated NAO (1st, 2nd and 3rd amendments) ordinances, which were also presented before the house in the shape of a bill, were passed amid rejection by the opposition.

The other five bills related to protection against harassment of women at workplaces, National Commission on the Rights of Child, juvenile justice system and amendments to criminal laws.

The opposition pointed out quorum twice due to thin attendance of treasury benches during the proceedings.

The first one was pointed out by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member Sheikh Fayyaz in the beginning of the session and the other by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Agha Rafiullah.

However, both attempts of the opposition to wrap up the session were foiled by the treasury benchers, with National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri setting a rare example by giving enough time to the government members to complete the quorum.

The deputy speaker gave more than an hour to the treasury members to complete the quorum, which required the presence of at least 86 members.

After pointing out the quorum, the opposition members left the house, but the deputy speaker did not suspend the proceedings and ordered a count that lasted over an hour, during which Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders — Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan and PTI chief whip in the National Assembly Amir Dogar — kept going outside the hall to bring members of the ruling coalition to the house to complete the quorum.

Five bills were presented by Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari and one each by Law Minister Farogh Naseem and Parliamentary Secretary for Interior Shaukat Ali Khan on behalf of Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who was not present in the assembly.

The bills presented by Ms Mazari were Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021, Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplaces Bill 2021, National Commission on the Rights of Child (amendment) Bill 2021, Juvenile Justice System (amendment) Bill 2021 and Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection (amendment) Bill 2021.

The other two bills were Criminal Laws (amendment) Bill 2021 and National Accountability (amendment) Bill 2021.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2021

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