Parliamentary leaders fail to agree on delimitation of constituencies

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Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

Wednesday again saw the parliamentary leaders failing to reach consensus on constitutional amendment for fresh delimitation of constituencies- a constitutional requirement. Whilst impasse persisted, Speaker National Assembly indicated after the meeting that the matter may be referred to the Council of Common Interests for the approval which was the demand of the PPP.
Talking to the media, the national assembly speaker sought the government’s opinion whether or not it wants to take the matter to the CCI. “ Now we will hold the next meeting after coming to know the stance of the government whether or not it wants to hold the meeting of CCI”.
The speaker said the meeting also decided that the next elections can not be held on the basis of 1998 census due to legal implications.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has made it clear that it will go to the Supreme Court for directions if the parliament fails to decide on something; but we hope that since this is in parliament’s domain, it should be the one to do it,” NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said.
Answering a question from a reporter, the speaker said he was hopeful that elections would be held on time, adding it is in the interest of all the parties that the polls are held on time. He also denied reports of a heated argument between Sheikh Rasheed and Mahmood Khan Achakzai and said that everyone had presented their point of view in a cordial environment.
Sadiq also said that though a consensus had not been reached regarding the amendment, there was an agreement over holding elections in a timely manner.
Law Minister Zaid Hamid also stressed the importance of having the constitutional amendment passed; as, he said, the government could approve the provisional census results using a simple majority vote but a constitutional amendment which requires a two-third vote to be initiated is required for delimitation of constituencies to happen.
Speaking to journalists earlier, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed had said that the government does not have the numbers for a constitutional amendment. “The meeting of parliamentary leaders has failed,” he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi concurred with Rasheed, adding that he did not foresee the PPP’s reservations being allayed.
Zahid Hamid had introduced the constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly on Nov 2 after an an agreement among all parties was reached after a two-day meeting of all parliamentary leaders. But soon after the introduction of the bill, the PPP’s parliamentary leader Syed Naveed Qamar opposed the passage saying the CCI should first approve the amendment before its passage by the parliament while the MQM leader Farooq Sattar once again raised questions on census results.

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