Saturday, January 31, 2009

PML-N fails to submit bill in NA for repealing 17th Amendment
PML-N fails to submit bill in NA for repealing 17th Amendment
January 31, 2009
By Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly session, which continued for 19 days, was prorogued on Friday without doing any legislative business except completing the debate on the presidential address to the joint sitting of parliament and adopting a vote of thanks.Just before reading out the prorogation, Chairperson Shakeela Khanum Rashid, who was chairing the session in the absence of Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, also read out the information to the National Assembly that the PML-N had voluntarily withdrawn the requisition for the National Assembly’s session.Just before the start of the session, the PML-N had announced that it would submit a constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly to repeal the controversial 17th Amendment but failed to do so. The Friday’s session was dominated by points of order.Bashir Mehmood Virk of the PML-N asked on a point of order whether the Article 270 AAA was part of the Constitution as it was incorporated through the PCO of November 3. He said members of this House had taken oath under the 1973 Constitution. But in its present form, it contains the Article 270 AAA and it is appropriate to form a committee to decide whether the members took oath under the PCO or the 1973 Constitution. However, his question remained unanswered.Ahsan Iqbal, senior legislator of the PML-N, put the government on defensive when he raised the issue of character assassination of Mian Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of his party through the Press Information Department.He said the PID was sending articles by ghost writers to newspapers that contained language that comes under the purview of character assassination of Mian Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of the PML-N. “This is against the norms set by both the parties in the Charter of Democracy,” he added. He warned that continuation of such personal attacks would revive the culture of 90s.Replying to a point of order, the minister for parliamentary affairs observed that while criticism was justified there should be no personal attacks. He said the government respected the opposition and will take up this issue with the information ministry.
Munir Khan Aurakzai said the displaced persons of the Kurram Agency had again threatened to close the Parachinar-Peshawar Road if no steps were taken for their rehabilitation. He said the people of Fata were facing great hardships and the government should take immediate steps for their rehabilitation.
Justice (retd) Fakhar-un-Nisa Khokhar drew the attention of the chair to the arrest of Zarina Baloch and asked why she had not been produced before the court of law. Syed Asif Hasnain, on a point of order, said seven officials of the Landhi-Korangi Industrial Estate had been kidnapped for ransom and the workers of the industrial estate had threatened to go on strike if the officials were not recovered. He said such incidents were on the rise in the area and demanded deployment of Rangers for protection of the local people. Engineer Amir Muqam of the PML-Q raised the issue of irregularities in the distribution of Zakat in the NWFP and said the provincial government, led by ANP and PPP, had appointed party men for distributing Zakat, making its distribution a political issue.Minister for Zakat and Usher Noorul Haq Qadri conceded that there were complaints not only in the NWFP but also in the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. He said a special committee, comprising Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan and Law Minister Farooq H Naek, had been assigned to formulate a comprehensive monitoring system.Meanwhile, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Malik Amjad Khan on Friday told the National Assembly that Chitral-Nawapass (Afghanistan) route would be opened in a couple of days. He was responding to a call attention notice of Shahzada Mohiuddin, Dr Abdul Kadir Khanzada and Muhammad Nawaz Allai about the closure of passage to Chitral, resulting in difficulties to thousands of stranded passengers in Peshawar and Chitral. The minister said after the closure of Lowari Pass in the winter season, permission was sought from the government of Afghanistan for use of Randu-Nawapass route. He said this year too the issue was raised with Afghanistan but due to security situation on the border, the route was not considered safe for journey and, therefore, permission was not granted. He said now that the Afghan government had given permission and the route would be opened for traffic within a couple of days. Minister for Communications Arbab Alamgir Khan told the National Assembly that the Lowari tunnel had been completed but for the time being people could not use it as heavy machinery was still moving there. He said the Lowari tunnel is a project of national importance and the completion date of the project was September 2010. Shahzada Mohiuddin asked the Chair to take up the issue with the Afghan foreign minister in his upcoming visit to Pakistan that the people of Chitral be allowed to bring essential commodities with them from Afghanistan as they were facing severe shortage of essential commodities in Chitral.

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