Parliamentary leaders fail to reach consensus

ISLAMABAD –  The fourth meeting of the leaders of the parliamentary parties was deferred Wednesday for an indefinite period after both the opposition and the government failed to reach consensus on the delimitation of constituencies in line with the recently-held census.

After the meeting, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq helplessly told journalists that the meeting has failed to bear any result. He said Pakistan People’s Party wants to take the matter to the Council of Common Interests whereas some other parliamentary leaders believed the parliament should decide the matter.

He, however, insisted that all the parties want to hold next general elections on time and are also unanimous that the upcoming polls could not be held on the basis of Census 1998 due to legal implications.

He said the ministers have been advised to consult the government and come up with a reply as to whether the government would take up the matter in the CCI meeting or not. “We will call next meeting when we receive a clear-cut message that a CCI meeting is being held or not,” he added. He affirmed some other options, including taking up the matter on the assembly floor, were also discussed in the moot.

“We have also discussed the option of taking the matter to the National Assembly, but the decision could not be taken because the government has no simple majority in the lower house, while due to reservations of PPP, two-thirds majority will be difficult to be achieved in the Senate,” he observed. He said after the decision of the government to take the matter to CCI, the party would move to the next step.

The federal cabinet last month decided to conduct fresh delimitation of constituencies.

On the government’s request, the National Assembly speaker called a meeting of the parliamentary leaders to discuss various options of delimitation of constituencies as per the provisional results of the recent census on October 31.

The special parliamentary committee decided to keep the total number of seats unchanged to 272 and make some seat adjustments in the quota of the provinces.

Hinting some reservations on the census results, almost all the parties agreed to table the matter in the National Assembly and carry out the constitutional amendment to hold next general elections on time.

However, the issue took a farcical turn when PPP and MQM strongly opposed the bill, challenging the provisional results of the recent census, after it was tabled in the lower house last week.

PPP said the bill should be passed first in the Council of Common Interests while MQM refused to accept the census results.

Amid reservations, the bill was postponed as the two-thirds majority to pass the bill in the National Assembly was also not there.

The delay in legislation further complicated the matter as the Election Commission has already warned the government to complete legislation on delimitations otherwise they would not be able to hold next general elections on time.

Since the failure of the lower house to pass the bill, the speaker has been holding the parliamentary party leaders’ meeting, but has failed to convince the opposition. Although Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in his Wednesday’s briefing insisted that all parties are unanimous to hold the elections on time and a representative of the Election Commission showed some flexibility by giving 10 days additional to the previous deadline of November 10, many people still doubt the government would be able to complete the whole process of legislation in a short span of two weeks.

Awami Muslim League President Sheikh Rasheed believes the government does not have the required number of members for a constitutional amendment. He said the meeting of the parliamentary leaders has failed.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi feared he does not think PPP’s reservations would be addressed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More