Islamabad (November 21, 2017): Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Khursheed Shah, has asked the government to contact the military leadership of the country to resolve the ongoing protest by religious parties in the capital.
Talking to the media in the National Assembly on Tuesday, the Pakistan Peoples Party said talking to the army and summoning the armed forces (in aid of civil power) is a constitutional right of the government.
Shah said further that talks should be held to resolve the protest by religious parties, adding that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the present situation.With regards to the Elections Act Amendment Bill, the opposition leader said they will try their best to pass the amendment in the National Assembly today.
“Leaders can be bad but not Parliament,” he said, adding that a disqualified person leading a party can never yield positive results.
After passing it in the Senate, the opposition parties are attempting to pass the amendment bill in the National Assembly which seeks to reimpose the ban on disqualified parliamentarians from heading political parties.
The session will be held at 4pm, prior to which political parties from both sides of the aisle plan to hold meetings to formulate a strategy for today’s showdown.The bill seeks to restrict disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif from heading the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
PML-N president Nawaz Sharif will personally monitor the proceedings of the National Assembly today.
Sources said the former premier and party chief has sought the attendance record of lawmakers and will likely issue show-cause notices to MNAs who skip today’s crucial session.
On October 23, the opposition-controlled Senate passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 with a majority vote, re-barring disqualified persons from taking part in political activities.
The bill had been put forward by leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), among other opposition parties’ members.The amendment in section 203 of the Elections Act 2017 seeks to reimpose a ban on disqualified persons from taking part in political activities.
Earlier this year, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) managed to pass the Elections Act, 2017 from the Senate and then the National Assembly to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to head the PML-N once more after his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.
Earlier, electoral laws had barred disqualified persons from heading political parties.Game of Numbers
At present, the government and its allies number 213 — the PML-N has 188 members, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl 13, PML-Functional 5, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party 3, National Peoples party 2, PML-Zia 1 and National Party 1.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties’ numbers are as follows: PPP 47, PTI 33, Muttahida Qaumi Movement 24, Jamaat-e-Islami 4, Awami National Party 2, PML-Quaid 2, Balochistan National Party 1, Qaumi Watan Party 1, All Pakistan Muslim League 1 and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan 1.
Moreover, there are 10 independents in the lower house.
Since the PML-N holds a majority in the National Assembly, it is unlikely that the bill will be passed.If the lower house rejects the bill, the matter will go to a joint sitting of Parliament where the PML-N and its allies will still outnumber the combined opposition.
However, of late, the PML-N has been struggling to ensure the presence of its lawmakers in the National Assembly. This was seen most recently when, earlier this month, the government failed to ensure the quorum in the lower house while attempting to pass the delimitation bill.
Moreover, since Nawaz’s disqualification, the opposition parties have claimed time and again that there are fissures in the PML-N, with dozens of party lawmakers ready to jump ship.