On Sunday, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman harshly criticised the government’s implementation of a presidential order to amend the 2017 Elections Act to hold Senate polls by open ballot, claiming that the change had created a constitutional crisis.
In reaction to the ordinance passed on Saturday, Rehman, supported by PPP stalwart and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, was addressing a press conference in Karachi.
According to a clause in it, the ordinance came into force immediately and expanded to the entire of Pakistan. It claimed that the President was pleased that “circumstances exist” with the Senate and National Assembly not in session, making the ordinance appropriate to take urgent action.
“They have created a constitutional crisis with their own hands,” Rehman said, adding that the sole explanation for it was that the PTI government hated its representatives and was no longer “in their hands” with their votes.
The leader of the PPP said, “You are playing your cards in a way that can create an emergency situation in the country,” and charged that the implementation of the decree amounted to an assault on the Constitution and the parliament. They are ripping the [Constitution’s] side […] constitutional amendments are the role of parliament and no one can dispute it,”They are ripping its (Constitution’s) page […] amendments in the Constitution is the function of the parliament and no one can deny this,”
She asked whether, when the presidential reference on the subject was still pending in the Supreme Court and the constitutional amendment bill was still in the National Assembly and therefore the “property of the parliament” the government had passed the decree.
She said the government’s motives were plain for all to see and the PPP will “reject them and will challenge them on every level”
On Saturday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also criticised the decision of the government to implement the decree as a “political indication that it is worried”
He had challenged the government’s move, saying that sub-judge was the matter. He had asked, “What is the point behind taking this step? Are you trying to put pressure on the apex court?”
The PPP chairman maintained that it was the duty of the parliament as far as passing laws and making constitutional changes is concerned. “undemocratic”undemocratic”rig the Senate elections once again in favour of a selected political party”rig the Senate elections again in favour of a designated political party.
‘This cabinet is blind’
On similar grounds, Rabbani also criticised the ordinance and said the government should have asked for guidance from the SC on the presidential reference. The PPP leader said to the nation, “It feels you are trying to pressure the Supreme Court,”
Criticizing the handling of the constitutional amendment bill process by the government, he said that relevant parties were not consulted and the government did not attempt to facilitate consultation or create consensus on the subject. And with respect to the ramifications and repercussions of the bill, “the Senate wasn’t taken into confidence” regarding the bill being about a change in the Senate itself, Rabbani said.
The senator also lambasted what he saw as the cabinet’s “haphazard” treatment of the bill and calling it “having no single direction”
This Cabinet deals with the nation and the Constitution. [It] claims that the Constitution and rules are like plasticine that can be shaped into any form.
“This kabeena (cabinet) is a (blind) nabeena… The Constitution can’t be read,” he said.
Rabbani pointed out inconsistencies in the ordinance and asked if if the ordinance was struck down and the Senate elections held according to it were declared void, the government would hold the Senate polls again.
PTI to fully accept SC decision
Meanwhile, while addressing a meeting earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reaffirmed the conviction of the ruling PTI that the SC had the right to read the law and provide clarification on whether or not a constitutional amendment was required.
Qureshi said the supreme court was currently hearing the presidential reference case and “we will fully accept it.” regardless of the opinion it released.
“backtracking from the promises made to the nation”backtracking from the promises made to the nation. He asked whether the opposition parties decided to create a “market” in the polls. “Why do they want to buy people’s conscience and why don’t they allow the use of votes according to a party’s power?”
“took the bill to the [National] Assembly considering their stance [on Senate election reforms in the CoD]”took the bill to the [National] Assembly in consideration of their position [on Senate election reforms in the CoD].
We have evidence that there are forces supported by powers that want to sow turmoil and anarchy, that want to collapse, that help terrorism in Pakistan and who don’t want the economy to grow.
He hoped that the new senators would “strengthen the federation” and play a role in the Constitution’s security.