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Senate Adopts Resolution against Presidential Form of Government

by Staff Report

File photo of Pakistan Senate

Tabled by opposition, resolution notes that abandoning parliamentary system will require complete rewriting of Constitution

The Senate on Monday passed a resolution against a “systematic campaign” to introduce a presidential system of government in Pakistan, stressing that some sections of the media, as well as social media, are being used to undermine the parliamentary form of government.

Tabled by Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party on behalf of the opposition, the resolution resolved to “preserve and protect the parliamentary form of government as envisaged in the 1973 Constitution.” There was no opposition to the resolution from the government, and it was adopted without hindrance.

During debate on the resolution, Leader of the House in the Senate Shahzad Wasim emphasized that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government had no role in the debate in the campaign to establish a presidential system in the country. However, he claimed, tabling the resolution served to “strengthen” the forces behind the campaign, and said the Senate was not a suitable forum to debate such issues.

Despite this, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman—who stressed he served at the pleasure of Prime Minister Imran Khan—told private broadcaster Geo News over the weekend that there was a “public demand” for the presidential system. During a wide-ranging interview, he also praised the presidential system, claiming it would prove a death knell for “mafias” and the “status quo.”

The resolution tabled by the opposition stresses that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah envisaged a federal parliamentary form of government for Pakistan. It notes that the citizens of Pakistan have continuously struggled for a federal parliamentary form of government, adding that this is also spelled out in the 1973 Constitution.

It also notes that a presidential form of government would introduce a “unitary form of government wherein the entire Constitution will be required to be rewritten.” The Senate has warned that “given the intra-provincial and federal provincial polarization, internal political instability, the regional situation and international attempts at colonization of Pakistan will make a national consensus on a new constitution impossible.”

Two more resolutions

The Senate also passed two more resolutions on Monday. Under one the Senate recognized the significance of parliamentary diplomacy and fostering of ties with various parliaments in the national interest. The House recommended that members of Parliament designated by foreign governments should be appointed as honorary consul generals of the particular country in Pakistan to strengthen existing people-to-people contacts.

The third resolution passed by the Senate highlighted the importance of rail connectivity amongst neighboring countries for revenue generation, promotion of business and tourism. The House suggested the government work to operate passenger and freight trains between Quetta and Zahidan, Iran to facilitate traveling of pilgrims, tourists and business community from Pakistan to Iran and boost trade on the pattern of recently resumed freight service from Pakistan to Turkey via Iran.

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