NA passes laws on electoral reforms, Jadhav

Despite opposition's boycott, 21 laws passed by lower house of parliament


Our Correspondent June 10, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Despite the opposition boycotting the session, the government on Thursday succeeded in passing 21 laws by the lower house of parliament.

The National Assembly passed a bill giving foreigners, including Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, the right to appeal against sentences handed down by military courts.

It also passed two bill on electoral reforms, under which Senate elections would be held through open ballot.

Bills pertaining to reserved seats for female members of the religious minority communities, constituencies demarcated on registered votes instead of population, granting dual citizens the right to vote, use of technology in elections and conditionally allowing dual nationals to participate in polls were passed.

The opposition also announced bringing a no-confidence motion against NA Deputy Chairman Qasim Suri.

As the session began under the chair of Speaker Asad Qaiser, the opposition members repeatedly pointed out the lack of quorum, but despite failed to have the proceedings adjourned.

Speaking on the floor of the house, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari raised the question did the government issue an ordinance if it had to give the Indian spy an NRO (safe passage).

“If you want a consensus, talk to us and don't bring ordinances in the dark of night,” he added.

“You were advocating the case of Kashmiris and now that of Kulbhushan?”

Bilawal stressed the need for legislating by listening to and understanding each other.

“The problems of the people will be not be solved if you don't listen to us, don't allow us to speak and don't even give us the right to read your bill.”

The PPP chairman said everyone wanted to give the right to vote to Pakistanis living abroad, but for that the government would have to take the opposition into confidence.

“If you talk to us, we will support you. Overseas Pakistanis should not contest against us but with each other,” he added.

“We have so much intolerance that we have to fight on TV shows.”

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi accused the opposition of “speaking the language of India”.

“India also wants Pakistan not to abide by the decision of the International Court of Justice and the opposition also wants this,” he said.

“Overseas Pakistanis work hard and send money to the country. We are giving them the right to vote. They [opposition] want to deprive Pakistanis abroad of the right to vote.”

Law Minister Farogh Naseem backed the foreign minister, saying that the international court had issued directions for introducing the law on appeal.

After a break when the deputy speaker took over, the opposition again pointed out the lack of quorum.

When Suri turned down their demand for a count of the members, the opposition lawmakers first approached the speaker’s dice holding placards and later staged a walkout.

Speaking on the electoral reforms bills, PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal, PPP's Raja Pervez Ashraf and JUI-F's Shahida Akhtar Ali declared them "one-sided".

The opposition lawmakers said they would move a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker for his behaviour.

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