On Friday the Senate Railways Minister Azam Swati tabled a motion seeking permission to introduce the Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Amendment Bill, the opposition members opposed the move. The motion was put for voting through division and was carried by 43 against 33 votes, marking the first blow to the opposition within the day.
Mushtaq Ahmad of Jamaat-i-Islami, who said the bill was against fundamental rights, constitution, principles of natural justice, and national interest, were also rejected by a voice vote. Saadia Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was also among those opposing the bill but sensing things she dropped her amendments.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill reads: “Increase in transnational organized crime has made it necessary for international community and Pakistan to improve the effectiveness of legal instruments. Lack of uniformity in law and weak coordination mechanism between countries affects combating of crimes across borders, to overcome these challenges, essential legal cover is required. International cooperation in criminal matters through mutual legal assistance and extradition is intended to bridge existing gaps in respective countries toward effective law enforcement. The requested state will provide mutual legal support to the requesting state by executing necessary actions on its territory in any specific criminal case warranting shared assistance.”
Senator Ahmad said that according to the bill the govt could act against an individual by confiscating his property made through concealment etc. under the law without issuing him a notice is against the principles of justice. He said the govt would give Pakistani nationals over to other countries with no notice. He alleged that the govt was paving way for the discharge of Dr. Shakeel Afridi and Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav through the proposed bill, but the allegation was rejected by the govt later on the grounds that the bill blocked the way for money launderers and thieves to transfer his ill-gotten assets to his relations.
The house also passed a bill about the regulation of generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar. Senator Raza Rabbani raised an objection against a clause under which Nepra itself would be empowered to notify power tariff if the govt did not do so during a stipulated time, insisting that the govt should retain its authority.
The already enraged members of the opposition rose within their seats to voice their protest when Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan brought two bills in the house through supplementary agenda for his or her consideration directly. It was acknowledged that one among the bills had been found by the committee concerned to be ‘not fit passage’.
The motion for leave to introduce the Reorganization of Federal Medical Institutes and Teaching Hospitals Bill was put to vote and carried by 39 against 35 votes.
PPP Senator Rubina Khalid said the aim of the bill was to introduce a replacement health system within the country on the pattern of the US where only those who got free clinics had a policy.
Leader of the House Dr. Shahzad Waseem rejected her claim and said the bill was a part of the health reform program of the govt. “It seeks to provide such health facilities to the poor which only affluent class can afford,” he added.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said the atmosphere of the house had been polluted and therefore the sanctity of the house was breached by circulating supplementary agenda after voting. “The house can’t be run like this,” she said.
The opposition after a protest ahead of the chair’s dais also staged a token walkout.
The Senate also passed the Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill. The mover Senator Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti explained that the proposed amendment was procedural in nature and didn’t increase the perks, privileges, and salaries of lawmakers.
Responding to a signalize notice, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan disregarded the allegations of issuance of 4 to 5 million fake computerized national identity cards (CNICs) in Sindh. He said but three million CNICs had been issued within the province over the last four years, including 592,000 in Karachi — most of which had been issued to genuine applicants.
The chair referred to the interest of the committee concerned on the insistence of Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan Senator Syed Faisal Ali Subzwari, the mover of the decision attention notice.
The assembly passed two bills, including the Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2021 for the well-being and dignity of senior citizens and therefore the Special Technology Zones Authority Bill, 2021.
The National Assembly also extended the amount of three ordinances for an additional 120 days by adopting separate resolutions amid the opposition protest the “rule through ordinances”. These included the Regulation of Generation, Transmission, and Distribution of Electrical Power (Amendment) Ordinance, education Commission Amendment Ordinance (IX of 2021), and better Education Commission Second Amendment Ordinance (X of 2021).
Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N, Former prime minister Raja Parvaiz Ashraf, PML-M member Khurram Dastgir Khan, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr. Nafeesa Shah, and Shahida Akhtar Ali, all opposed extension within the period of the ordinances also opposed extension concerning the HEC promulgated to scale back those ordinances meant to scale back tenure of the HEC chairman from four to 2 years because the govt wanted to get rid of the sitting chairman because he didn’t accept illegitimate demands of the govt .
“The government is breaching privilege of the National Assembly by using it to extend ordinances,” Dr. Shah said, adding an ordinance was an emergency law. She said it had been condemnable that the govt decided to scale back the tenure of heads of certain institutions through the promulgation of ordinances.
Adviser to the Prime Minister Ali Nawaz Awan rejected objections of the opposition on promulgation and extension of ordinances saying that the previous government had promulgated 23 ordinances per annum while the incumbent government had promulgated 17 ordinances per annum.
The session was not a peaceful one, it was marked with opposition unrest, protest, and a walkout.