ISLAMABAD: The sessions of both houses of the parliament on Monday were marred by uproar from the opposition lawmakers belonging to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) who were seeking more time to debate Supreme Court’s verdict on rescheduling of the presidential election.
Wearing black arm bands, the party members walked out of the National Assembly after their leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim called in question the court verdict regarding setting the election date at July 30 instead a date announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the election on August 6.
“It was an election for the top constitutional office of the country. All parties had started political process after the announcement of the date. But, the decision of the apex court had disappointed us,” he said speaking on a point of order.
“It was not the election of a union council or a cantonment board but for the most esteemed office. It is stated not to comment on court decisions but when the issue is of utmost importance, what should one do. Then one can only protest on such decisions,” he added.
“We also registered our protest before the government,” he said and added that the Election Commission is an independent institution which is not bound to obey the orders of other institutions. “But, this is a different issue that the ECP took due to some of its weakness, itself threw the ball in the court of the apex court.”
He also described the decision as ‘pre-poll rigging’ and said, the situation forced them to boycott the presidential election. Amin Fahim also invited the major opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf to join the boycott.
Meanwhile, speaking on a point of order in the upper house of the parliament (Senate), Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of opposition, raised questions on the Supreme Court’s verdict.
He alleged that the petition had been filed under Article 184/3 of the Constitution while no fundamental right had been breached. Senator Ahsan said the court could not fix date and time for presidential election which was under the constitution a prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
He contended that the ECP had abdicated its authority and the court had acted beyond its course of duty as he cited different provisions from the Constitution to support his claim.
Responding to the points raised by Ahsan, Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said it seemed that the chair had abdicated its powers and the decisions agreed upon during the business advisory committee by the treasury and the opposition were being violated.
He pointed out that it was agreed that two speakers from each sides had to speak on the matter and the same had been agreed upon by Barrister Aitzaz and Mian Raza Rabbani.
Haq said if the decisions of the business advisory committee are not accepted by the members, there was no need to hold such meetings.
Deputy Chairman Senate Sabir Ali Baloch agreed with the observations of the Leader of the House and reminded Ahsan and Rabbani to keep their word.
Taking part in the debate, Senator Saeed Ghani of the PPP said that the ECP had no idea of holding Presidential poll and the decision of holding the poll was taken in haste when the matter cropped up in media.
He said that the Chief Election Commissioner should take the nation into confidence about breach of its authority.
Syed Zafar Ali Shah of the PML-N said that the previous government of the PPP had facilitated the election of a military dictator in uniform and the former Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar had authenticated the election.
He urged the PPP leaders to move the Supreme Court for a review of the court order about July 30 presidential election if they were not satisfied with the decision.
“If the PPP could move court seeking reopening of four decades’ old Zulfikar Ali Bhutto trial, why it was adamant against seeking review of this case,” he added.
Terming the boycott of the presidential poll a bid to derail the democratic process in the country, Shah said the PPP was a pro-democratic party and it should uphold the democratic traditions and values.
Senator Shahi Syed of the ANP urged both the opposition and the treasury benches to move cautiously as the recent disagreement and discord between both the sides could be a ploy against democratic process.
Many members wanted to take part in the debate but the chair decided to follow the decisions of the business advisory committee and prorogued the session.