ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee for Law and Justice on Thursday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to defer the announcement of election schedule for the vacant seats of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly till May 8.
The committee’s session was headed by Riaz Fityana while Members of National Assembly Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir also attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Naveed Qamar and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s Khawaja Saad Rafique objected to the law minister being represented by parliamentary secretary Malaika Bukhari.
Bukhari informed the committee chairman that the law minister was busy in another meeting and hence couldn’t appear before the panel. Upon this, the chairman told Bukhari to ask the minister to have some regard for parliamentary committees.
MNA Dawar presented a constitutional amendment bill 2019 proposing an increase in the number of assembly seats for FATA for review by the committee. The government however opposed the bill.
Dawar said the census done before the election did not take into account internally displaced people due to which voters of the region remain underrepresented.
“Currently, twelve people including I have been elected but if elections are based on the statistics given in the census, FATA will see only six of its representatives in the lower house,” he said adding the number of seats remains intact until the next census.
“We were also given fewer seats in the provincial assembly,” he said adding that people from FATA should be given 24 seats in the K-P assembly. However, the government opposed the bill as Bukhari maintained that political parties in Karachi also had reservations against census statistics and the approval of the bill would give rise to another Pandora box.
Moreover, PML-N lawmaker and former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah demanded the government to present a clarification regarding the DG ISPR’s press conference.
Sanaullah then asked Dawar and Wazir if they had taken any money from RAW or NDS. “If they are traitors, we must not sit with them,” he said.
Similarly, Khawaja Saad Rafiq maintained the representation of FATA should not be cut in the National Assembly. “The people of tribal regions have served as fuel for war on terror, a war that we fought for strangers,” he said.
Committee chairman maintained that tribal people also stood in respect when national anthem was played on the assembly floors and have taken oath in light of the country’s constitution.
The chairman announced the committee will hold another meeting for the bill on May 8, replying to which Dawar requested him to ask the ECP not to announce its schedule before the said date. Fityana upon his request advised the election commission to defer announcement of its schedule until May 8.