As the country braces itself for a new era of democratic life, the parliamentary annals mark yet another historic event. According to the sources that talked to The Express Tribune here on Thursday, President Asif Ali Zardari is all set to address the joint parliamentary session of the upper and lower houses for a record sixth time on Monday, June 10 at 4:30pm.
The Article 54 (1) of the Constitution vests in the President the power to summon the joint parliamentary sessions as it reads: “The President may, from time to time, summon either House or both Houses in joint sitting to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit and may also prorogue the same.”
When asked for confirmation, President’s spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said, “the summary for the joint session has to come from the government and we have not received it yet.” However, Babar added, plans for presidential address were in the pipeline.
Sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) confirmed that a joint session had been summoned and it would be held on Monday at 4:30 pm. The June 10 session would be the first formal session of the lower house of parliament after the completion of the house, i.e., election of the new premier, leader of the opposition and speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly.
Constitutionally, the President is required to address the newly elected parliament. In this connection Article 56 (3) of the Constitution says that “at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the National Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses assembled together and inform the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) of the causes of its summons”.
However, this time President Zardari would not have to face the hostile opposition which had been stealing the show through its protests during the last five years. The PML-N, which played the role of opposition during the coalition government led by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has now come to power and President Zardari’s party is now on opposition benches.
In March 2013, the Nawaz League had not only staged protest but had also boycotted the session when President Zardari addressed the joint session for a record fifth time. Monday’s address would give President Zardari another distinction as he has already made a record by addressing the parliament for five consecutive times.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2013.
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