PML-N leader Khawaja Asif on Friday warned that the opposition would approach the Supreme Court for a legal interpretation of the Constitution to decide if the government’s move to pass bills without holding a debate was in accordance with the law.
“If we (the opposition) do not get justice from this House, we will be forced to knock on the door of the neighbouring building and ask for an interpretation of the Constitution,” Asif said during the National Assembly sitting today. He was referring to the Supreme Court building, which is located next to Parliament House.
The former defence minister lamented the government’s “total disregard” of the opposition’s reservations on proposed laws and said: “A person, who comes to power through free and fair elections, […] would never sit on this seat and do what was done here yesterday. This House is ashamed.”
Yesterday, the session of the lower house of parliament started after Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary committee in Parliament House, where he directed his party’s legislators to get all the bills passed, especially the one aimed at replacing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) with the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). The prime minister remained in his chamber in Parliament House till the session of the lower house was adjourned until today.
Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri got the 11 ordinances passed in such haste that no time was given to legislators to hold a proper debate on them. He turned a deaf ear to the opposition members belonging to all main opposition parties, who tore up copies of the bills, threw them towards the deputy speaker and converged on the speaker’s dais.
The opposition rejected passage of the ordinances and termed it “unconstitutional” and vowed to bring a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker.
During his address in the assembly today, Asif cautioned that “democracy would be ruined” if the government kept up this attitude. The PML-N leader also criticised members of the ruling party and said: “It is because of this naivety that Niazi sahib has to listen to taunts.”
He further said that the hasty passage of bills by the assembly was not a “good omen”.
“Our federation cannot survive without democracy,” said Asif. “Democracy is the only relation that has kept this federation united.”
He urged National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to “become an advocate for democracy and the supremacy of the House” instead of one party.
He also demanded the PTI to account for the funds it allegedly received from other countries.
“These thieves have been caught today […] They took money from Indians. There is proof [that] money was taken through offshore companies,” he declared as members of the treasury benches protested.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) formed a scrutiny committee to hold an audit of PTI’s funding sources after Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the party, filed a complaint claiming that the party had illegally collected about $3 million through two offshore companies, and that the money was sent through illegal channels from the Middle East to certain accounts of “PTI employees”.
PTI has challenged ECP’s order in the Islamabad High Court.
Earlier, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had accused the opposition of “not obeying the law”.
“They (opposition parties) talk about democracy [but] they are not even ready to listen,” Khattak said, adding that opposition parties should convince Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to “come to the table” in order to resolve his grievances.
The session was adjourned until Saturday.
Requisition for no-confidence motion submitted
After the session was adjourned, opposition leaders submitted a resolution for no-confidence against Deputy Speaker Suri under Article 53(7)(c) of the Constitution. According to the resolution, Suri “violated the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, 2007 and lost the confidence of the majority of the House”.
Article 53(7)(c) of the Constitution says: “The office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker shall become vacant if he is removed from office by a resolution of the Assembly, of which not less than seven days’ notice has been given and which is passed by the votes of the majority of the total membership of the Assembly.”
A motion was also submitted under Rule 12 (removal of the speaker or the deputy speaker) of the Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business, 2007.