ISLAMABAD: As multiple controversial bills were bulldozed in the joint sitting of Parliament by the government via alleged “brute force”, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif termed it the “blackest day” in Parliament’s history.
Addressing the media after a walkout, Shehbaz said that under “Rule 10” a majority of 222 is required to pass legislation in a joint sitting.
“They did not even have 212, the vote count was distraught,” said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president. He added that he even asked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to divide the votes as the numbers were incorrect.
“Their members are not present but they [government] were adamant on 221 votes,” said the former chief minister. He also said that the opposition gave references to the constitution and law but their concerns were ignored.
“They (government) were adamant on passing the EVM and other bills. You saw brute force [was used] to bulldoze bills,” claimed the opposition leader.
Attacking the custodian of the house, Shehbaz said that the speaker did the “opposite” of acting like he had promised to them, which was remaining above party lines.
“As leader of opposition it is my right to speak on point of order, and I was requesting for the mic constantly but he did not open my mic,” said the opposition leader. He claimed that the speaker acted as a PTI representative during the proceedings of the house.
“We were left with no option but to boycott and come to you [media] and tell the nation that in this house how the nation’s luck is being played with,” said the PML-N leader.
The opposition leader said that he had advised Prime Minister Imran khan that the effort he was putting in getting the EVM bill passed should have been spent on tackling inflation and unemployment.
“I feel today is the blackest day in Parliament’s history,” concluded Shehbaz.
Opposition to challenge legislation in courts
On the other hand, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed that the government had not won by passing the bills instead it has lost.
“I tried very hard to get the speaker’s attention and treasury benches attention on what 1973 rules of joint session say. Joint session rules says in order to approve a bill via joint session the government must have half the votes of the joint strength of both the houses,” said Bilawal. He added that according to the numbers the government had to have a minimum of 222 votes for the bill’s approval.
The PPP chairman said that it does not matter whether the opposition has one member of 206 but the onus was on the government to have 222 votes.
“Whatever was the government’s intention, rules say that law is not made and we will take this position on all forums. And if they [government] insist their legislation is according to rules then we will challenge this in court. We will challenge this in Supreme Court,” vowed Bilawal.
The lawmaker from Larkana also shared that the opposition will also make the Election Commission of Pakistan understand that the EVM legislation has not been passed.
“They kept all procedures and parliamentary norms on the side and forcefully tried to show that they were successful,” said Bilawal. He also appealed to the media to make the nation understand that the government had failed in getting the bills passed.
“We [opposition] are united and we will challenge this on all forums,” said Bilawal.
While JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mahmood said that the opposition had warned the government that they would not accept one-sided legislation. He also shared that they had invited the government for talks but the ruling party was in a hurry to pass the legislation.
Azam Hoti of the Awami National Party (ANP) regretted the games played on the pretext of negotiations. He added that the government “bulldozed” all the traditions of parliament while passing the legislation today.
Parliament approves use of EVMs, voting rights to overseas Pakistanis amid ruckus
Earlier today, the joint session of parliament adopted a motion moved by Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan to take up the Elections Act amendment Bill, 2021 after 221 members voted for the amendment and 203 voted against it.
The opposition had walked out from the House in protest and came back following which, several bills were passed smoothly.
The house has also adopted two controversial amendments for use of electronic voting machines and giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis. Another controversial bill that has been passed is the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) bill.
The government and opposition have been at odds over the electoral reforms that the former has been pushing for quite sometime. While the ICJ bill has been dubbed by the opposition has an NRO for Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadav.