Govt tastes defeat twice in NA over two bills

Published November 10, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday. — Photo via NA of Pakistan Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday. — Photo via NA of Pakistan Twitter

ISLAMABAD: A day after getting seven bills passed from the lower house of parliament in the absence of opposition members and by managing the quorum with the covert support of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, the government twice faced defeat at the hands of the opposition in the National Assembly on Tuesday during voting on motions seeking introduction of two bills.

The opposition first defeated the government with a 117-104 vote on a motion moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Javed Hasnain to seek permission to introduce a private member’s bill aimed at preventing politicians from changing their parties. Then the opposition again defeated the treasury members on a similar motion moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Asma Qadeer for introduction of a bill seeking to enhance punishment for those who passed obnoxious remarks against women.

Ayaz Sadiq asks PM to resign on moral grounds

The deputy speaker abruptly adjourned the session till Wednesday while announcing that he could not allow Ms Qadeer to introduce the bill as the opposition members had rejected it with a majority. He, however, did not give the vote count as the opposition had visibly outnumbered the treasury members, most of whom had left the house after the first defeat. On the other hand, there had been a significant increase in the number of members on the opposition benches due to arrival of PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the house.

Taking the floor after announcement of the result by the chair of the vote on the first motion, PML-N stalwart Ayaz Sadiq termed it a “moral victory” of the opposition.

“Morally, Imran Khan should resign before convening of a joint sitting of the parliament,” said Mr Sadiq in an apparent reference to the government plan to call a joint session of the parliament this week for the passage of a number of controversial bills, including the electoral reforms bills, after failing to get them passed from the opposition-dominated Senate.

Mr Sadiq said the opposition had obtained this success on the day PPP veteran leader Syed Khursheed Shah, who had been in the custody of National Accountability Bureau for more than two years, attended the sitting for the first time after he was granted bail by the court last month.

A loud desk-thumping by the opposition members welcomed Mr Shah as he entered the assembly hall. He kept on receiving greetings from the members, including those on the treasury benches, almost throughout the time the house remained in session.

The government faced first defeat when the opposition challenged the chair’s ruling of rejecting the motion of the PML-N’s Javed Hasnain for introduction of a constitution amendment bill after it was opposed by parliamentary secretary for law and justice Maleeka Bokhari terming it unconstitutional. As soon as the deputy speaker put the motion for a vote, a number of treasury members, including some of the ministers, who were present in their chambers and the lobbies, were seen rushing to their seats. However, even the presence of senior cabinet members, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Asad Umar and Shireen Mazari, could not prevent the government from facing the defeat and resultantly, the deputy speaker allowed Mr Hasnain to introduce the bill.

While speaking in support of the bill, the PML-N lawmaker said he had suggested that any politician who contested the election on the ticket of a party should not be allowed to change his party at least for seven years. He said he had introduced the bill keeping in mind the country’s political history which showed that every military dictator carved out a new party from the previously ruling party to legitimise his rule.

“This lotagiri (practice of changing loyalties) must be stopped,” he said, adding that the time had come when the people from the ruling PTI would be thinking of changing their parties ahead of next elections.

Later, while speaking on a matter raised by independent MNA Mohsin Dawar and ruling party MNA Junaid Akbar regarding poor security situation and target killing incidents in the Malakand area, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan responded to the speech made by PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq.

Referring to the government’s defeat, the minister said usually a lower number of treasury members attended the private member’s day sittings as it was the day when the opposition members brought most of the agenda. He said even if the opposition had managed to get some bills introduced in the house without the government’s support, it would not be able to get them through the standing committees where the government enjoyed a majority.

During the proceedings, Mr Dawar twice tried to raise the issue of ongoing talks between the government and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, but on both occasions, the deputy speaker did not allow him to speak and switched off his mike.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly saw introduction of 11 private member’s bills, which were referred to the related committees, and passage of the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2020.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, the PTI’s Lal Chand drew the attention of the house towards the murder of a man, Nazim Jokhio, at a farmhouse in Karachi’s Malir area and condemned the Sindh government headed by the PPP for the rise in crime in the province. He criticised performance of Sindh police and mentioned a report which pointed out that 310 police officers were found involved in drug business. He called for the formation of a judicial commission to probe the murder of Nazim Jokhio, saying his postmortem report had proved that he had been severely tortured before his death.

The PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel while defending his party’s government in Sindh said police had already arrested the accused in the case after swift registration of the case. He then lashed out at the PTI’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, questioning as to why cases had not been registered on the murders of Israr Gandapur and PTI MPA Sardar Soran Singh.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2021

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