ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to convene a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament on Feb 6 to endorse imposition of governor’s rule in Balochistan.
Talking to Dawn, federal Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Farooq H. Naek, said: “I have signed the summary for convening of the joint session of the parliament on Feb 6 and forwarded it to the prime minister for necessary approval.” The minister said that under the Article 234 of the Constitution which had been invoked to impose the governor’s rule in the restive province, it was mandatory to seek approval of the presidential action from a joint sitting of parliament. He said the session had been called with the single-point agenda to table the proclamation order for the governor’s rule in the parliament.
The Article 234 of the Constitution allows the president to impose governor’s rule in a province if the governor reports that the constitutional machinery in the province had failed to perform.
The clause (3) of the same Article says, “a proclamation issued under the Article 234 shall be laid before a joint sitting and shall cease to be in force at the expiration of two months, unless before the expiration of that period it has been approved by resolution of the joint sitting and may by like resolution be extended for a further period not exceeding two months at a time; but no such proclamation shall in any case remain in force for more than six months”.
President Asif Ali Zardari invoked the said Article after the Shia Hazara community refused to burry bodies of 86 victims of twin suicide bomb attacks. The community demanded dismissal of Nawab Aslam Raisani’s government. In response, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf travelled to Quetta, and accepted the demand of protesting the Shia Hazara community.
But since the imposition of the governor’s rule members of the provincial assembly have been protesting both inside and outside the house against dismissal of the provincial government. They have been demanding withdrawal of the governor’s rule.
After dismissing its own chief minister, the ruling PPP is facing a catch-22 situation in Balochistan. The ruling party needs complete cooperation from its inoperative Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani first to dissolve the provincial assembly on date of its choice and then to select a caretaker chief minister before general elections. Mr Raisani has protested against the dismissal of his government and in a couple of appearances has criticised his own party set-up in the province for hatching what he called a conspiracy against him.
Barrister Zafarullah Khan, a constitutional expert and Supreme Court lawyer, says if Mr Raisani refuses to cooperate with the PPP leadership, the province will face a constitutional deadlock.
Before April 6, when the provincial assembly will complete its five-year term, the PPP needs a chief minister to follow its directive, for dissolution of the house and selection of the caretaker set up “because as of today, Mr Raisani is the leader of the house and continues to enjoy confidence of the house”.
Barrister Khan said a provincial governor had the authority to dissolve a provincial assembly if the house failed to elect its leader for any reason, but there is no such situation in Balochistan.
Therefore, Mr Khan said willy-nilly the PPP leadership would have to talk to Mr Raisani and address his concerns. Otherwise, a vote of no-confidence against him followed by the selection of a new leader of the house would be the only available solution.