The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Election Act Amendment Bill, 2020, which contains dozens of amended clauses to introduce electoral reforms, including the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis, open ballot for Senate polls and use of electronic voting machines (EVMs). As many as 21 bills were laid in the National Assembly on Thursday by the treasury amid strong protest by opposition parties, who termed the move ‘hasty’ and demanded that they should be given an opportunity to read the bills and submit their suggestions. Initially, the opposition tried their best to have their voices heard. The opposition started thumping the desks and created ruckus while sloganeering against the government. They also identified the lack of quorum but the speaker paid no heed to them. Later, they surrounded the speaker’s roaster and protested, but despite all, the rules were suspended and several items were passed one after the other. Later, the opposition lawmakers walked out of the house and accused the chair of not appropriately running the National Assembly session. Qadir Patel announced to boycott the NA session and bringing a no-confidence motion against the chair of the house. After the walkout, the opposition filed a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri under Rule 12 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. The motion states that all the legislation on Thursday was done in an illegal manner and that the voices of the people were suppressed as the opposition was not allowed to speak. It further states that a person whose case is pending in a court of law does not have the right to occupy the deputy speaker’s seat. In addition, it says that the deputy speaker has demonstrated a clear bias towards the government. Out of 21 bills, the opposition expressed reservations mainly over two bills: “The International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Bill, 2020”, and “The Election Act Amendment Bill”. The major concern of the opposition on the International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Bill was that the government wanted to protect Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy. Speaking in the Lower House, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked the opposition to review its ‘pathetic and inappropriate’ attitude and proactively take part in the legislative process. Responding to the opposition members’ points, the minister said the opposition has the right to criticism but it should be constructive and not for the sake of point-scoring. “On one hand, they allege that the government is not taking the House seriously, and on the other, they resorted to tactics of staging walkout or pointing out quorum to create hurdles in the process of legislation,” he wondered. Qureshi also invited the opposition to take active part in the legislative business as they were sent to the House by their voters for the purpose. On Thursday, the National Assembly also passed Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Amendment Bill, 2021, Federal Medical Teaching Institute Bill, 2020, Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Port Qasim Authority Act Amendment bill, 2021, the Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Amendment Bill. The House will meet again on today (Friday) at 4pm.