Opposition lashes out at govt over passage of bills

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PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal (left) and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman speaking during a press conference in Islamabad on November 18, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive
PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal (left) and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman speaking during a press conference in Islamabad on November 18, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive

ISLAMABAD: The joint Opposition Thursday termed Wednesday’s joint Parliament session the “blackest day” in Parliament’s history as it lashed out at the government of passage of over a three dozen bills.

Yesterday,  the government powered through record 33 bills in a single day, including the controversial bills related to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and the International Court of Justice.

Most crucial of the bills passed were amendments to the Elections Act, 2017, that allow the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and give overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in general elections.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, while addressing a press conference along with PPP Senator Sherry Rehman in Islamabad, said it was the “blackest day” in the history of Parliament as he expressing the hope that the courts would now uphold the constitution — in line with the Opposition’s aims to challenge the bills in court.

He reminded the government that it is not the only stakeholder in elections so bulldozing bills in the house is not its prerogative. 

“The election commission is a major stakeholder, it is responsible for holding free and fair elections,” he said, adding that by passing the laws, the government had build the grounds for “rigging in the next elections”.

Iqbal, shedding light on EVMs, said they are vulnerable to rigging even if they do not operate online. “The machines will work under the government’s supervision, they can be tampered with.”

The PML-N leader also claimed that the machines might affect voter secrecy, and that the government had even then adamantly bypassed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Senate.

He also cautioned the ECP that it would be going against its duties to hold free and fair elections in the country if it falls under the pressure of the government. It must be recalled here that government ministers had levelled several allegations against the body, but later apologised.

The PML-N leader said any law made without consultation was not acceptable to the Opposition.

Iqbal said the passage of the bill related to Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav, in presence of the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, was a “blot” on the Parliament.

He went on to say that the government had given “an NRO” (referring to a concession under the National Reconciliation Ordinance) to the Indian spy by getting the International Court of Justice ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Bill, 2021 passed — which allows Jadhav the right to a review and reconsideration.

Moreover, he said the autonomy of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was at stake and that the government was aiming to bulldoze legislation regarding the central bank.

He said the Opposition will present its point of view in court regarding the “unconstitutional” moves made by the government.

‘Worse than a martial law’

In her address to the conference, Senator Sherry Rehman said: “The events that transpired yesterday in the assembly were not even witnessed during Musharraf’s era […] it was worse than martial law.”

The PPP lawmaker said the government had “trampled” democracy in Parliament by getting the bills passed through an “artificial majority”.

“We will challenge these bills at every forum possible,” she said.



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