The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition government is determined to pass three separate constitutional amendments: one aimed at allowing parliamentarians to hold dual nationality, and the others barring bureaucrats and judges from the same.
According to sources, the government will try its luck again soon after Ashura by calling a special Senate session to pass the 22nd, 23rd and 24th constitutional amendment acts.
The 22nd Constitutional Amendment Act seeks to amend Article 63 of the Constitution, which deals with the disqualification of Parliament members. If passed, the amendment would allow dual nationals to contest general elections and nullify recent Supreme Court orders to disqualify around a dozen dual national legislators.
The 23rd and 24th Constitutional Amendment Acts, proposed by the Awami National Party (ANP), aim at barring dual nationals from government service and being appointed to the country’s superior judiciary.
“A Senate session will be convened soon after 10th Muharram to pass the proposed amendments,” said presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar, without providing an exact date for the special session. He maintained that the bills could not be passed in the previous sittings due to a shortage of just one vote, and the coalition hoped to secure the required majority in the next attempt.
Last week, the PPP and its coalition partners failed, twice, to pass two of the aforementioned amendments. The primary reason behind the failure was the absence of seven PPP and two ANP senators from the session, despite hectic efforts by the party leadership.
The PPP senators who did not turn up were Babar Awan, Faisal Raza Abidi, Sallaudin Dogar, Sahar Kamran Muddasir, Kamran Khan, Gulzar Ahmed Khan and his son Waqar Ahmed Khan.
According to sources privy to developments, President Asif Ali Zardari took serious notice of the matter and sought an immediate report. They added that the absent senators had personal reservations against the proposed amendments along with other party issues.
Babar refused to share any details on this matter with The Express Tribune, saying it was the party’s internal issue.
While talking to The Express Tribune, ANP Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel expressed optimism regarding the amendments. He claimed there was consensus among all coalition parties to pass the 24th Constitutional Amendment Act and was confident that all three amendments would be passed in the next session. He was unsure, however, of the bills’ fate in the National Assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2012.