ISLAMABAD: National Assembly (NA) Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq will chair a meeting of leaders of political parties on Tuesday to evolve a consensus on the issue of delimitation of constituencies as the NA session on Monday concluded without any agreement.
The session was called to pass a crucial constitutional amendment bill, seeking reallocation of seats of the national and provincial assemblies and fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional census results.
The apparent reason for the failure was lack of numbers as the constitutional amendment requires a vote by two-thirds of members (228 in the 342-member house).
A visibly displeased Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq warned that if the lawmakers failed to pass the amendment soon, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will have to seek the Supreme Court’s (SC) assistance in this regard.
On this, the Opposition leader Khursheed Shah responded that the ECP had every right to take the matter to the apex court. He, however, insisted that the 2018 general elections must take place according to the proposed schedule.
The lower house was unable to pass the amendment bill in its session last week as well.
Commenting on the lack of attendance of lawmakers, Sadiq asked if he should delay the Parliament’s proceedings for an indefinite period. “It seems that the amendment is being deliberately delayed as it will lead to an increase in the representation of smaller provinces,” he remarked.
The speaker also expressed surprise at the lack of consensus, saying that the parliamentary leaders had agreed to increase the number of legislative seats during a meeting held last week. It seems, Sadiq said, that another meeting will have to be called for further consultations.
PPP’s Naveed Qamar said that his party had no objections regarding the proposed amendment, however, he added that no matter what steps the NA speaker takes to make MNAs reach a consensus, the issue can only be resolved through dialogue.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Shireen Mazari declared that the absence of lawmakers when the Parliament has to pass an important amendment reflects the lack of confidence. She insisted that the assembly must resolve the reservations of all political parties.
Former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali said that the Parliament will not be able to function properly if members take too long to pass an amendment. He also criticised the procedure of delimitation and claimed that the matter was not taken seriously.
“In order to save face, we need to resolve this matter in a transparent manner,” he maintained.