Which opposition lawmaker ‘missed’ joint session of parliament and why?
At least 30 opposition lawmakers ‘missed’ the joint session of the parliament where the government managed to have passed various laws, which the prime minister says will pave the way for the removal of Pakistan’s name from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
It’s worth mentioning here that the opposition had been opposing amendments to various laws apparently aimed at helping Pakistan get away from the FATF grey list. However, as many as 30 opposition lawmakers ‘missed’ this very important joint session of the parliament on September 16 citing petty reasons.
The opposition parties have been vigorously opposing amendments to various laws, especially the amendment which would allow the government to keep anyone in custody for 180 days without producing in the court on charges of terror financing. Representatives of intelligence agencies will be included in the committees, which decided who should be arrested for terror financing and who shouldn’t.
The opposition parties have been facing criticism from the media for their failure to bring their lawmakers to the joint session of the parliament. However, opposition parties say they had a higher number of lawmakers in the session despite the absence of 30 lawmakers, but the government rigged the voting process. They say that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser did not order a recount of votes despite the fact that he had promised to do so. Ultimately, the opposition parties had to stage a walkout from the joint session.
Now names of the lawmakers who ‘missed’ the joint session have been made public. According to a list of lawmakers who missed the session, 11 were from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), eight from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), three each from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the National Party, two from the Awami National Party (ANP) and one each from the Baloch National Party-Mengal and Baloch National Party Awami. A very important independent member of the National Assembly also missed the joint session of the parliament.
From the PML-N side, five MNAs and six senators missed the joint session. PML-N lawmaker Ahmad Raza Maneka remained absent from the session without citing any reason. Ahmad Raza Maneka is a close relative of First Lady Bushra Bibi. Ehsanul Haq Bajwa has been in Dubai for the last several months and he did not even inform the party about his absence. Also, Malik Afzal Khokhar, Iftikhar Nazir and Riaz Hussain Pirzada did not attend the session. Afzal Khokhar has been suffering from cancer, while Riaz Hussain Pirzada was suffering from fever. He was present in the Parliamentary Lodges, but he did not attend the session. However, there are reports that he had already informed party leader Khawaja Mohammad Asif about his poor health and possible absence. Iftikhar Nazir said he could not reach the National Assembly to attend the joint session due to a mishap.
Of the six PML-N senators who ‘stayed away’ from the joint session of the parliament, only Senator Saleem Zia had informed his party leadership that he would not be able to attend the session due to his poor health. Other five senators, including Chaudhry Tanvir, did not even bother to give a reason for their absence from such a crucial session of the parliament. Other PML-N senators who did not attend the joint session were Kulsoom Perveen, Rahila Magsi, Dilawar Khan and Shamim Afridi. According to sources in the PML-N, these senators violate the party’s discipline habitually.
From the PPP, total eight lawmakers missed the joint session of the parliament – seven MNAs and one senator, Rubina Khalid from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. PPP MNAs Asif Ali Zardari, Ghulam Ali Talpur, Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Amir Magsi, Roshan Din Junejo and Makhdoom Jamil did not attend the session.
Khurshid Shah has been in jail for the last few months on account of charges framed against him by the National Accountability. According to PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Zardari has been critically ill, therefore he could not attend the joint session. However, the PPP has not given any explanation over the lawmakers