The government has approved the twenty-fourth amendment Bill in the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice despite the opposition rejecting the timing of the amendment. The amendment comes at a time when the Prime Minister and his family members are facing a trial in the apex court in Panama Leaks case. The opposition, mainly Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has severely criticised the timing of the Bill — terming it to be usedfor the sake of saving the skin of the prime minister in the event of his conviction in the Panama case in the Supreme Court. Members of both parties on the parliamentary committee opposed the timing of the bill on the grounds thatthe Supreme Court is hearing the prime minister’s case. The committee met on Monday under the Chairmanship of MNA Bashir Virk here in the Parliament House.
Although the same right was sought by the PPPP as well, the hastened legislation amid the Panama proceedings has resulted in oppositions disapproval. The Supreme Court had ousted Ex-Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani following corruption and contempt of court charges. MNA Ayaz Soomro of PPPP had submitted a similar bill 2015, which was shot down by the parliament. MNA Naveed Qamar of the PPPP reiterated the same by stating, “his party was not against the amendment but the timing of it.” He added that the government wanted to save the prime minister through this amendment if he was convicted in this case.
Although the prime minister should have such a right to appeal against the suo moto notice of the Supreme Court to maintain a balance of power among the three organs of state, the current hastened legislation is not a solution and could result in a dangerous precedent where the ruling party legislates only in the circumstances like these. The Panama case has already resulted in a lot ofcontroversies, tainting the reputation of PML-N government for their failure on providing the details of the offshore properties of Sharif family. While the current amendment targets to check the balance of power, it shouldn’t have reached this far had the Prime Minister appeared in the Parliament and clarified his stance and all the details in there. Failure on the part of the government, as well as their delaying tactics, has resulted in agitation from the opposition, mainly PTI, which led to the Supreme Court taking up the issue. Both the government as well as the opposition should realise that by doing such legislation as well as taking everything out on the street, they are not serving the cause of democracy. If everything is to be done outside the parliament, under the auspices of the other organs of state, the democratic cause will go nowhere. *