11 bills bulldozed through NA within 30 mins


–PML-N’s Kh Asif says Opp parties to bring no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Thursday bulldozed 11 bills, including nine presidential ordinances, through the National Assembly in a session which the opposition lawmakers called a ‘mockery’ of parliament.

The bills passed during the session presided by NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri included the Legal Aid and Justice Authority Ordinance 2019, the Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Ordinance 2019, the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2019, Medical Bill 2019 and Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance 2019.

A total of 15 bills, including 13 presidential ordinances, were tabled by the government in the session which started amid protests by the opposition parties over the government’s knack for legislation through presidential ordinances and was about 30 minutes long.

Opposition lawmakers gathered in front of the speaker’s dais and tore up copies of the bills. They also chanted slogans against the government.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Mohammad Asif said the tactics employed by the NA deputy speaker and the government have made parliament a laughing stock and announced that the opposition parties would file a no-confidence motion against Qasim Suri.

Asif, in a video, could be heard mocking the deputy speaker for allegedly stealing 65,000 votes in the general elections last year. “Not one, or two, you stole 65,000 votes,” a visibly irate Asif could be heard saying.

The deputy speaker was disqualified by an election tribunal in Sept which declared his election to the National Assembly void and ordered a re-election in the NA-265 (Quetta II) constituency. A notification to de-seat Suri was issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan as well.

However, the Supreme Court later suspended the decision and asked the ECP to take back its de-seating notification upon Suri’s request.

Referring to the approval of 11 out of 15 bills in the House earlier in the day, Asif said that the government wrapped up the proceedings in 20-25 minutes and adjourned the session. “Whatever happened today was an insult to the parliament,” he added.

Speaking about Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Azadi March, Asif said the government was creating hurdles for the participants.

“The government had asked the officials of Capital Development Authority (CDA) to look after the protesters but they had been asking for food from the latter,” he said, adding that the water supply near the Azadi March venue has also been cut off and internet services are unavailable in the area.

The former foreign minister also alleged that public hospitals have been instructed by the government to avoid giving medical treatment to the participants of the dharna.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters led by the JUI-F chief have gathered in Islamabad to demand the ouster of PM Imran, warning of chaos if their demands were not met.

The protest in the capital is the first concerted opposition challenge the cricket star-turned-politician has faced since he won a general election last year promising to end corruption.

Security remains tight in Islamabad with the government and diplomatic sector – just a few kilometres from the rally site – sealed off, and roads blocked from shipping containers.