Opposition plans to give govt tough time in parliament

ISLAMABAD: Joint opposition on Tuesday claimed to have prepared a strategy to give a tough time to the government and defeat controversial legislations in the upcoming joint sitting of the parliament that President Dr Arif Alvi has convened on Thursday morning (tomorrow).

“The opposition is united inside the parliament. We succeeded today and Insha Allah (God willing), the joint opposition will achieve more successes in future,” said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during an informal and brief chat with reporters after attending a meeting of the joint opposition while referring to the defeat of the government in the National Assembly on two motions for the introduction of private member’s bills.

President convenes joint sitting of parliament tomorrow

Sources told Dawn that in the dinner-cum-meeting of the joint opposition hosted and presided over by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leadership had directed all their members of the National Assembly and the Senate to ensure their presence during the joint sitting so that they could block the government’s move to get the key legislations passed.

Mr Sharif said the nation wanted fresh elections in the country, adding that they had discussed the matter in the meeting.

“This country can’t move forward unless fresh elections are held,” declared Mr Sharif while lashing out at the government’s economic policies. “This government and prime minister [Imran Khan] have ruined the country’s economy,” he added.

The PML-N president said the government even failed to save the people from dengue while it was indifferent to the hardships the people were facing due to it. He said medicines used to treat dengue patients were unavailable.

PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said the prime minister after the government’s defeat in the National Assembly had lost ‘any legal justification’ to stay in office. Asking Mr Khan to resign, the PML-N leader said people were running from pillar to post to get sugar, petrol and gas as presently it seemed the government did not exist.

PML-N’s information secretary and MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb said the opposition had made all the preparations to defeat the government move of getting the controversial legislations, including the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance (Amendment) Bill and electoral reforms bills, in the Thursday’s joint session of the parliament.

She said Mr Khan had lost the support of his own party members and allies. In the next elections, it would be difficult for the PTI to find candidates, she believed.

The government has convened the joint sitting of the parliament to get over two dozen bills passed. Most of these bills had been passed by one house of the parliament, but could not sail through the other house within the constitutionally-stipulated 90-day time limit.

The controversial bills, including those seeking use of the electronic voting machines in the general elections, allowing overseas Pakistanis to use their right of vote through I-voting and giving right of appeal to Indian spy Kalbhushan Jadev, were passed by the National Assembly, but the government could not get them passed from the opposition-dominated Senate.

In September last year, the government had got some 17 bills, including those related to FATF, passed from the joint sitting, following the opposition’s walkout from the proceedings.

Presently, the alliance under the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has a very thin majority if the two houses are combined for a joint sitting. It is expected that Prime Minister Imran Khan may call a meeting of the parliamentary group of his party and allies before the joint sitting of the parliament to ensure the maximum attendance.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2021

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