NA adopts Elections (Amendment) Bill amid opposition’s protest over PM’s remarks

Business Recorder

The National Assembly Thursday passed ‘the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019’ amid opposition’s protest against Prime Minister Imran Khan for calling PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari with suffix Sahiba (a term to address a woman) during his Wednesday’s speech in South Waziristan.

The bill was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan. The amendment to the Elections Act, 2017 says: “For the purpose of delimiting constituencies, for the general seats of the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the tribal areas, two or more separate areas may be grouped into one constituency for their elections to be held in 2019 and by-election related thereto and thereafter this sub-section shall stand omitted.” As per the 25th constitutional amendment, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is bound to hold election on 16 general seats of the erstwhile tribal areas, including frontier regions for provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa prior to July 25 this year.

The ECP is facing difficulty in delimiting the six ex-frontier regions, which have been annexed by the provincial government with other adjoining districts. The amendment will facilitate the Commission in delimitation of the constituencies for the general election in the tribal districts.

Earlier, the National Assembly witnessed ruckus as Pakistan Peoples Party’s Information Secretary Nafisa Shah condemned what she claimed misogynistic remarks made by the Prime Minister in his speech regarding Bilawal.

“Unlike Bilawal Sahiba, I did not come into politics through a chit like the last will of his mother that gave him the political party in inheritance. I founded my own party,” the Prime Minister had said, addressing a public gathering in Wana (Waziristan) on Wednesday.

Nafisa, however, said this is a reflection of misogynistic thinking. She said this is an insult to cultural values of Pakistan by trying to humiliate Bilawal. She urged the Prime Minister to apologise for his remarks against Bilawal or otherwise, they would be forced to disregard him as the Leader of the House.

The women lawmakers of the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) gathered in front of the speaker’s dais and raised slogans against the Prime Minister’s remarks.

During the Question Hour, Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said that the government is planning to introduce people-friendly legislation in the Parliament next week. He urged the opposition parties to support the government in the passage of the bills. He said the government is committed for eradicating corruption as it is pursuing an agenda of accountability across the board.

Regarding questions about performance of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Farogh Naseem said the NAB is working as an independent institution and there is no interference in its working from the government side.

Answering questions, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed informed the House that National Road Safety Policy has been formulated in consultation with the provinces to provide better facilities to the commuters and reduce the number of traffic accidents. He said an effective policy would be implemented with the cooperation of provinces. He said work on widen Karachi Northern Pass to of its present size has also been planned. He said construction work on the project would begin by the end of this year after hiring the services of consultants and contractors.

Minister said Sukkur-Multan section of the Motorway would be made operational by August this year. He said government is also preparing a detailed design and commercial feasibility of Sukkur-Hyderabad (M-6) Motorway.

To a question, he said, new services have begun to cut Pakistan Post’s losses and make it a profitable entity.

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