Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif vows to contest NAB ordinance in court if its passage cannot be blocked
Pakistan’s major opposition parties on Tuesday decided to unite against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government in tomorrow’s Joint Session of Parliament to prevent it from passing several controversial bills, including one linked to the use of electronic voting machines in elections.
Addressing a dinner he hosted for opposition lawmakers in Islamabad, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said the government had already been “embarrassed” in Parliament after failing to pass two bills earlier in the day. Vowing that the opposition would play a more active and decisive role in the coming days, he said they would unite in opposing the government at all available forums. He also vowed to block the passage of the NAB ordinance during the Joint Session of Parliament, adding that if this attempt failed, the opposition would seek relief from the courts against the “illegal” law.
“Imran Khan wants an NRO [national reconciliation ordinance] for himself and his close cronies,” he alleged of the latest amendments to the NAB ordinance, which seek to restrict the anti-graft watchdog’s operations to decisions taken prior to the rise to power of the incumbent government. He said that Pakistan could not move forward unless fresh elections were held, and accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of “destroying” the country’s economy.
Sharif urged all the opposition lawmakers attending the dinner to ensure they attended the Joint Session of Parliament, adding that he was conveying this message on behalf of himself and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif.
Attended by MNAs and senators of all opposition parties, the dinner’s attendance included Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari; Opposition Leader in the Senate Yousaf Raza Gilani; Khursheed Shah; and Sherry Rehman. From the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), it included Maulana Asad Mehmood and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri; while Ameer Haider Khan Hoti represented the Awami National Party.
Addressing the meeting, Bhutto Zardari said all opposition parties were united under Shahbaz Sharif’s leadership in Parliament. “Today the opposition once again defeated the government in the National Assembly and only the unity of the opposition can defeat the government,” he said.
The PPP would play an active role with the combined opposition in the joint session of Parliament, he said, emphasizing that the issues facing the public including inflation, unemployment and abject poverty. He said the PPP would avail every forum in its opposition to the government.
To a question by a journalist after the dinner, he said the opposition was working to ensure the prime minister was ousted from office.
President Arif Alvi has summoned a joint sitting of Parliament for 11 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) in a bid to get more than 24 pending bills passed. Most of these bills have been passed by either the Senate or the National Assembly, but were unable to secure approval from both Houses within the constitutionally-mandated 90-days.
The bills being tabled include controversial pieces of legislation like the use of electronic voting machines in the next general elections; allowing overseas Pakistanis to vote from their place of residence; and giving right of appeal to convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.