ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties have vowed to resist a possible government move to amend the rules of the National Assembly and the Senate to stop issuance of production orders for the arrested legislators, saying that any such step will amount to undermine parliament’s sovereignty.
Leaders of the main opposition parties — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — described Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements and the cabinet discussion on the issuance of production order as “interference” by the executive in the affairs of parliament.
The opposition parties want National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to respond to Mr Khan’s statements and resist such a move as it will amount to curtailment of the chair’s powers conferred upon him by parliament.
Expressing dissatisfaction over provision of A-class facilities in jail to former premier Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Zardari, PM Khan while chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday had questioned the issuance of production orders for the parliamentarians facing money laundering and corruption charges and called for revisiting the relevant laws.
Wants NA speaker to thwart such designs aimed at curtailing his powers
“The rules of procedure of parliament are framed and adopted under Article 67 of the Constitution and as such fall within the domain of powers conferred by the Constitution on parliament.
“Any interference by the executive to change, alter or tinker with the said rules will be an attempt to trespass into the domain of another institution created and functioning under the Constitution.
“It will amount to violating the concept of trichotomy of power which forms one of the bases of the Constitution,” said PPP Senator and former chairman of the upper house of parliament Raza Rabbani in a statement on Wednesday.
“A right conferred by parliament cannot be withdrawn, altered or amended by the executive. Such an act with the encouragement of horse trading only reflects the political weakness of the government and will usher an era of greater political instability, which will have a consequential effect on the already tottering economy,” he warned.
Mr Rabbani said the rules of the National Assembly and the Senate pertaining to issuance of production orders were a right and not a privilege, conferred by rules framed under Article 67 of the Constitution. These “rules are at a higher pedestal than rules made under a statute as they draw their source from the Constitution”, he explained.
The former Senate chairman said the arrests of the parliamentarians under detention laws in civil and criminal proceedings had been a common phenomenon in Pakistan, with the purpose being to induce a change in party loyalty or prevent members from the performance of their constitutional and parliamentary duties and functions, and preventing them from voting or forcefully obtaining a crucial vote.
In a joint statement, three PPP MNAs Abdul Qadir Patel, Agha Rafiullah and Shagufta Jummani said “the selected prime minister” was conspiring against democracy and the NA speaker was a pawn in this conspiracy.
“Imran Khan is stripping parliament of its powers and through the speaker is making parliament only a rubber stamp,” they alleged.