ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan People's Party is hopeful that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz will support its bill to restrict elevation of a disqualified person as the party head – a move designed to remove ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif as party chief.

Senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan said the PPP was in talks with the PML-N to support the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 – passed recently by the Senate.

“Our parliamentary party in the National Assembly is in contact with the PML-N to seek their support. Without their backing, we are obviously not in a position [numerically] to get the bill passed,” he told The Nation.

Ahsan, who is the opposition leader in the Senate, said the “PML-N should support” the bill as it was in the interest of the nation.

The PPP stalwart said elevating a disqualified person as the party chief was illogical. “We are against person-specific legislation and the PML-N has done exactly that to elect Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N president,” he said.

Hours earlier, PPP leader Syed Naveed Qamar was quoted by a television channel as saying that PPP may consider to quit the National Assembly, if the PML-N created hurdles in the way of Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017.

Qamar said the PPP had so far not considered resignations but if the government did not allow tabling the bill, they could resign.

Last month, the Senate passed with majority “The Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017” to remove Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N head.

Sharif was disqualified as the premier in July by the Supreme Court but later returned as the PML-N chief after his party bulldozed a law allowing all citizens to become member of a party or head it.

The PML-N has a majority in the National Assembly and will easily reject the amendment proposed by the PPP.

The opposition has majority in the Senate but the PML-N had rushed the Bill through the Upper House taking advantage of some opposition members’ absence.

Senator Farhatullah Babar, another PPP leader, told The Nation that the opposition parties also planned to benefit from the habitual absenteeism of the treasury benches in the National Assembly.

“We really want this law to be passed. This is not a pressure tactics at all. We want to correct a mistake. The government passed the Bill in the Senate when the opposition members were absent, we will do the same. There is a quorum issue in the National Assembly daily,” he said.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his successor Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who himself is a regular absentee, failed to ensure their party lawmakers to attend the National Assembly proceedings during the last four years.

For the last many months, the government has been facing embarrassments as habitual absentees have caused quorum issues on a number of occasions.

Sharif had even conveyed it to the lawmakers that those skipping the proceedings regularly might not be awarded party tickets in the general elections, due next year.

Even this warning failed.

Senator Babar said the PML-N had passed a person-specific law but the PPP was seeking to amend this for the sake of democracy.

“Our point is rational. A disqualified person should not lead a party,” he added.

The lawmaker said the PPP had not considered resigning from the National Assembly so far.

“We are aiming to pass the bill but until the law is there, Nawaz Sharif can lead the PML-N. He can only be removed if the law is amended,” Babar said.


PPP hopes PML-N will support ‘anti-Nawaz’ bill


Shafqat Ali