ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition decided on Wednesday to challenge the government-backed electoral amendments passed in the joint session of the parliament in the Supreme Court.
Talking to reporters after the opposition walked out from the joint session in protest, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticised the government for bulldozing amendments. He said the opposition would challenge the move on all relevant forums, including the top court.
"The entire nation must be informed that the government did not win but lost during the joint session today," he said.
Bilawal explained there were separate rulebooks for a joint session of parliament and a regular session. "And I tried my best to draw the attention of treasury benches and National Assembly (NA) speaker towards rules pertaining to a joint session in the 1973 Constitution," he said.
According to the rules, the government needed more than half the votes of the combined strength of the two houses of parliament to pass a bill through a joint session. "If the treasury benches are unable to cross this number, no law is passed," he claimed.
"Today, no law has been passed for EVMs, no NRO was given to Kulbhushan Jadhav, because the government did not have the [required] numbers."
Bilawal said the government had bypassed all parliamentary procedures to show that they had been successful. "But it is my appeal to the media, and it is its responsibility [as well], to make the people understand that the government has not been successful,” he said.
"It is a pity [...] that politicians, when they gathered for the joint session, instead of addressing the difficulties faced by people, were adding to their problems," he commented.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said, "Today is a black day in parliament's history."
He complained that the NA speaker did not listen to the opposition. "They were bent on getting the bill for the use of EVMs and other bills passed," he said.
"I told him that you are being unfair, that you had assured of not toeing the party line, but he did the opposite. He did not listen to us."
"Laws and rules were trampled today and consequently, we were compelled to boycott the session and come here to tell the nation how they (government) is playing with its fate in parliament."
This article was first published on Nov 17 2021 in Business Recorder.