PTI conditionally agrees to support bill

ISLAMABAD – A high-level meeting of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday agreed to support the constitutional amendment bill seeking fresh delimitation of constituencies but with the condition that consensus should be evolved on it, without any delay in the holding of general elections.

The Core Committee of the PTI agreed that the party will support the constitutional amendment bill, tabled by the government on November 2nd, if the government gets the support of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and succeeds to develop consensus on the proposed law, senior PTI leader and MNA Asad Umar told The Nation after the meeting.

He further said there was a consensus within the party leadership that neither any new law nor any other move of the government should bring hurdles in the smooth and timely conduct of the next elections.

The meeting of senior PTI leadership that was held at Bani Gala under the chair of Imran Khan discussed in detail the political situation of the country in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in the Panama Papers case, and the role the government is playing inside and outside the parliament.

Umar said overwhelming majority of the senior party leadership was of the view that the government should develop a consensus on the proposed law seeking relocation of seats of the National Assembly as well as provincial assemblies.

“The two main parties — PPP and the MQM — belonging to Sindh have opposed the law and this means that one province has dissociated itself from the legislation,” he said.

Umar said the meeting also discussed that the government itself also did not look serious in getting pass the constitutional amendment as the treasury members had very thin presence in the last session of the National Assembly that was prorogued on Monday.

“How the government could get pass the amendment as its lawmakers did not turn up at the session,” he said, adding a two-third majority would be needed in the parliament to get the proposed bill passed.

Responding to questions, Umar said there was no proposal under discussion within the PTI that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly should be dissolved, where the PTI was the ruling party, to push the government for holding of early elections.

He said the PTI was demanding early elections because the government had actually become dysfunctional politically and economically.

Earlier, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, the other day, had said the PTI opposed the constitutional amendment bill seeking fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional results of fresh census.

He, while endorsing the demand of the PPP had said that the next election should be held on the basis of 1998 census, but at the same time had called for early polls to be held in March or April next year.

Chaudhry had also proposed that the government should dissolve the assemblies to hold early polls instead of wasting energy on developing consensus on the constitutional amendment bill.

He had further said that the PTI was ready to dissolve the KP Assembly if there was a consensus on the dissolution of all provincial assemblies and the NA.

Iftikhar Durrani, the head of the PTI’s Central Media Department said that the government was completely in disarray and had become dysfunctional and the prime minister was making foreign tours.

“So the only way to get out [of] the crisis is the holding of early elections,” he said, adding that the country was facing economic and political instability.

The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, also said on Tuesday that the government should take the delimitation bill before the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to meet a constitutional requirement.

“The approval of the CCI for new delimitation of constituencies is a constitutional requirement,” he said, adding that the government was reluctant to take the issue to the CCI.

The PPP and the MQM both have also challenged the results of the fresh census calling it a flawed exercise and are demanding that the next elections should be held on the basis of the 1998 census.

 The PTI is also of the view that there is no harm in holding of the general elections on the basis of old census as the delimitation of constituencies would only delay the elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) claims that it needs six months to complete the delimitation process and has given the government deadline of November 10 to get passed the proposed law seeking fresh delimitation.

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