ISLAMABAD     -    The government Friday conceded in the Senate that it was forced to introduce new legislation through presidential ordinances because of the opposition’s “refusal to pass public-interest laws only to pressurize it to yield some political benefits.”

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf accepted that it was unable to get laws passed from the upper house because of its low strength there. The opposition enjoys majority in the 104-member house.

Concluding the debate in the house on the “stumbling economic situation” of the country and the government’s decision to dissolve Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) through an ordinance, Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz said that the government was forced to promulgate ordinances because the opposition had rejected important government-sponsored bills because of its majority in the house.

A government bill meant to increase the number of judges of Islamabad High Court was rejected by opposition only for “negative political point scoring” despite it was approved by the standing committee concerned, he pointed out. “Due to this unnecessary refusals (from opposition), we are unable to bring reforms and get some bill passed from the house.” He alleged that the basic agenda of opposition was not the welfare of public but to bring the government under pressure by opposing bills only to get some political benefits. “The opposition has invoked its tyranny of majority.”

The leader of the house was responding to the opposition members’ speeches that the government was introducing all laws through ordinances after bypassing the parliament and the dissolution of PMDC — an important body that was regulating the medical profession in the country — through an ordinance was its wrong step.

Faraz said that any promulgation of ordinance could not be declared illegal because the constitution allows this action. “It is a pure constitutional step.” 

Giving a reference to the parliamentary record, he said that opposition parties had been doing the same while in government as Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in its tenure had promulgated 104 ordinances and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) had enforced 46 ordinances.

On the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Ordinance, 2019 that dissolved PMDC, he said that the PMC Ordinance was not a repeat of already PMDC Ordinance earlier disapproved by the house. He said that PMDC Ordinance brought in January 2019 was meant to being an amendment in the previous law. However, the purpose of PMC Ordinance is to change the structure of regulatory authority because PMDC did not fulfill the modern time requirements. “Our medical profession had gone into hands of some irresponsible people affecting standards of our doctors,” he said adding that it was hijacked and a mafia had emerged only to promote its own medical business.

About the skyrocketing prices of tomatoes in the country, the leader of the house said that the government was facing this issue because of disturbance in supply of the vegetable and other essential green groceries due to banning of Pakistan’s trade with India and heavy rains. “We are improving supply side,” he said.

Earlier, Parliamentary Leader of PPP in the Senate Senator Sherry Rehman criticized the government for passing record 19 ordinances within a year. “The way the government bulldozed the National Assembly by getting 11 ordinances passed from there without discussion and without sending them in committees was never done in any parliamentary history of Pakistan.” She asked the Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani to request Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser to resend these ordinances in NA before sending these to Senate and got them approved from the committees.

She requested that the NA Speaker being a custodian of the lower house, democracy and the parliament should play his role to revive respect of the parliamentary system. She said that powers vested to President to issue ordinances was only for emergency purposes.

She said that the PTI government had written a new controversial history that was regretful for Pakistan. She reminded that the name of PPP-Patriots, a breakaway faction of PPP that was formed in Musharraf regime to form the then government, has now vanished from country’s political landscape. She suspected that PTI could face disintegration like Patriots if did not give respect to the parliament.

“Let us not pretend that we are not in a presidential system,” Ms Rehman said adding that the press now is talking about the presidential-plus system already mentioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan some eight months ago.

She argued said that merit was “murdered” through the PMC Ordinance that dissolved the PMDC. “We hope from the chairman to censure them (PTI government) and guide them not to write a new history whose heavy cost would have to pay to the democracy,” she concluded.

Earlier, PPP Senator Dr Sikandar Mandhro taking part in the debate rejected the dissolution of PMDC and said: “It is a plan to commercialize the medical profession.” He said that the government’s move has put at stake the integrity of Pakistani doctors abroad. “We have to save PMDC and to end the new commission.”

Leader of Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq also opposed government’s decision to bring legislation through ordinances. He also rejected the new PMC what he said this would ruin the medical profession. He demanded withdrawal of PMC ordinance and added that the government should adopt normal way to bring legislation.