ISLAMABAD – Lawmakers – mainly from the ruling PPP – in Tuesday’s National Assembly session objected to an Election Commission of Pakistan proforma calling for the submission of fresh affidavits, insinuating that the parliamentarians were being disgraced in the name of dual nationality.
In their remarks, PPP legislators raised objections to the pro forma, while a young legislator even implored that there was a need to ascertain how many dual national judges the superior courts were having.
The House, on a Private Members’ Day, did not take even a single of the 36 agenda items.
Notably, legislators from different political parties showed lack of interest in the proceedings. Besides, some of them, including Natasha Daultana, spent the time playing games on their cellphones or I-Pads.
The House, which was set to order by Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi nearly around one-and-a-half hours late from its scheduled time, witnessed criticism from members over the absence of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who had to respond to certain call-attention notices.
About the pro forma received from the ECP, PPP legislator Noor Alam Khan, on a point of order, demanded that similar affidavits be called from judges of the superior courts. “It is a humiliation. Is there any doubts about our being Pakistanis,” he questioned, saying, “We will not go to the oath commission office for this purpose.” Khan also called for a ban on dual citizenship holders, but implored that all the parliamentarians should not be disgraced.
Expressing similar views, another PPP lawmaker, Mumtaz Alam Gilani, added that they were not bound to take oath again. “It is the sovereignty of the House that we are not bound to take oath again.”
Nevertheless, it was PPP’s Belium Hasnain, who initially raised the issue, seeking advice that “what should MNAs do with this pro forma from the ECP; should they submit fresh affidavits or not”.
Deputy Speaker Faisal Kundi however ruled that Parliament had no responsibility in the matter, and the members and the election commission should sort it out among themselves. “Neither is it NA Secretariat’s business nor a job of Parliament,” he clarified, and added the Supreme Court, in its verdict, had directed the ECP to get fresh oaths from the parliamentarians.
The election commission has asked all members of the Senate, National Assembly and provincial houses to submit declarations on oath that they were not disqualified under Article 62(1)(c) of the Constitution. (The sub-article of the basic law bars public representatives from holding dual nationality.)
Meanwhile, voicing serious concerns over the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan, PPP legislators suggested that there was a need to implement “governor rule” in the province. “Although Balochistan is under the control of the Frontier Constabulary (FC), crime rate is swelling with each passing day,” said advocate Usman, a PPP MNA, demanding the dissolution of the Balochistan Assembly and the proclamation of ‘governor rule’. He told the House that it was on record that some ministers were managing groups involved in abduction for ransom and killings in the province.
Speaking in a similar emotional tone, senior PPP legislator Nasir Hussain Shah opined that the solution lied in the implementation of governor rule in Balochistan.
Upon this, Defence Minister Naveed Qamar, informed the House that the Special Committee on Balochistan would present its report in the next meeting of the Cabinet.
On the issue about overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote, Minister for Law and Justice Farooq H Naek said that amendments would soon be made to enable overseas Pakistanis to exercise their franchise right.
Earlier, voicing serious concerns over the Sindh People’s Local Government Act (SPLGA), 2012, a lawmaker from a main opposition party staged walkout, saying, “It was meant to divide the province.”
Upon this, PPP’s Shazia Marri contended that it was in accordance with the Constitution and that all pros and cons had been weighed up beforehand.
On the issue of accountability bill, PML-N’s Anousha Rahman snubbed the law minister for not presenting a report on the NA Committee on Law and Justice. She also called for replacing committee’s chaief, Naseem Akhtar Chaudhry, with some competent person.