Govt, opposition brace for today’s joint sitting

PM Imran meets party’s lawmakers, Shehbaz finalises strategy to block legislation


​ Our Correspondents November 16, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The joint sitting of parliament – meaning participation of lawmakers from both the upper and lower houses -- will be held on Wednesday (today) for which Prime Minister Imran Khan has personally met parliamentarians for the approval of important bills while the opposition parties have also carved out a strategy to deal with the matter.

The premier spent a busy day in his chamber in the Parliament House in Islamabad, meeting PTI lawmakers one by one and listening to their issues.

He also chaired a meeting of senior government leaders during which the strategy for the joint sitting was considered. PTI leader Amir Dogar briefed the participants of the meeting on the contacts being made with partners of the ruling coalition.

The premier instructed Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Dogar to ensure the attendance of the members.

Sources said that a 56-point agenda would be presented in the joint meeting.

Also read: PTI’s five-year performance will shut ‘political shops’ of opponents: PM

Important bills about electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voting right for overseas Pakistanis would be presented for approval.

According to sources, the meeting was informed that the ruling coalition had the required number for approval of the bills.

A delegation of the MQM-P also called on PM Imran. The sources said the MQM-P had assured the PM of its complete support in the joint sitting.

The party reiterated its demands to the prime minister for development projects, recovery of its missing activists and opening of offices.

Government sources said the MQM-P had been assured of speedy resolution of its demands related to development projects.

Later when a journalist asked the premier about how optimistic he was about the joint sitting, he replied that a sportsman always came out on the field to win.

Later, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar hosted a dinner for lawmakers belonging to the PTI as well as the coalition partners to ensure their attendance.

Sources said the MNAs and senators expressed a “barrage of reservations”. They complained to the senior leadership that they were constantly being neglected.

The parliamentarians maintained that the prime minister and federal ministers did not give time for their constituency issues and development work.

Also read: Shehbaz reaches across political divisions to strengthen anti-govt front

They regretted that elections were upon them and they could not face their constituents, adding that all they were good for was to vote on the bills.

The sources said the defence minister assured them that funds for development schemes would be released soon.

Separately, the joint opposition has also finalised its plan for the joint sitting.

Leader of the opposition in NA, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, held a consultative meeting at the Parliament House.

It was attended by PPP leaders Khursheed Shah and Yousuf Raza Gilani and PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khawaja Asif as well as other leading opposition leaders.

The participants, while formulating a strategy for the joint sitting, vowed to use all possible means to block the passage of legislation by the government.

They agreed that all opposition parties would ensure 100% attendance of their members in parliament.

During the meeting, Shehbaz said the “tyrannical” government, which had brought the country to the “brink of economic decline” and “caused high inflation”, could not survive on “black laws”.

“The government is a falling wall and can’t be saved with support,” he added.

Also read: Opposition sets conditions for legislation on electoral reforms

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, PPP central leaders Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and Shazia Marri said no “black law”, including the use of EVMs, would be allowed to be passed during the joint sitting.

Bukhari said the government had first called a joint sitting in a hurry and then postponed it.

He added that the government then lied that the sitting was postponed on the opposition’s suggestion whereas it was put off as its allies had abandoned it.

The PPP leader said the late former chief justice Nasim Hasan Shah had admitted that he had delivered the verdict to execute Zulfikar Ali Bhutto under pressure.

“[PPP co-chairperson] Asif Ali Zardari had filed a reference on the matter. We ask the [incumbent] chief justice of Pakistan to take up this reference and order a probe into it.”

Speaking on the occasion, Marri said the country was going through difficult times under the control of “selected” rulers.

“The people are worried because of their [rulers] incompetence and now want to get rid them. The next prime minister will be Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,” she added.

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