Gossip about presidential system raises eyebrows

(Khuda Ki Basti Sources)The opposition lawmakers on Friday sounded alarm over the ongoing chatter and calls for replacing the country’s parliamentary democratic system with a presidential system, demanding a debate on the matter in the National Assembly.

The issue came up during a searing discussion when the opposition condemned what it termed “systematic and planned campaign”.

Speaking on the floor, PML-N lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal said the rumours about presidential form of system were a matter of serious concern, adding it was deplorable that even after the passage of 75 years since the country’s inception, there was still no consensus on the parliamentary democracy.

“We do not need any enemy if we are not even capable of reaching a decision on it,” the former planning minister said and wondered who was perpetuating the speculations.

“We will never allow anyone to impose any such system,” he emphasised.

Earlier on Wednesday, the members of the joint opposition submitted a resolution to the National Assembly Secretariat expressing the resolve to uphold and strengthen the federal parliamentary system in the country as provided in the 1973 Constitution.

Iqbal tweeted an image of the hand-written resolution signed by opposition members on his official social media account with the caption “let’s see if it comes on the assembly’s agenda on Friday or not”.

“When the government, imposed through rigged elections, has ruined the country, then whisperings of imposition of an Indira Gandhi-like emergency and change in the system through various formulas are being heard,” wrote Mr Iqbal on his Twitter handle.

Speaking on the floor on Friday, the PML-N secretary recalled that presidential system in the past had fuelled grievances which subsequently led to division of the country. He noted that the founding fathers of Pakistan had envisaged parliamentary democracy.

“The country was dismantled into two parts during General Yahya Khan’s rule. Shaikh Mujeeb had demanded the elimination of martial law from the country before the fall of Dhaka.”

He asked for holding a debate on the matter so that this issue could be resolved once and forever. “Every citizen of Pakistan would strongly resist the movement.”

PPP’s Agha Rafiullah also expressed concerns and called for opening an inquiry to expose the elements churning out the rumours.

Judiciary being attacked

Earlier, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi brought the house’s attention to what he described as a “certain noticeable pattern” in which judiciary was being attacked and expressed concerns over “strategically-timed” leaks by the PML-N to fume against the judges and manipulate legal proceedings.

He said the Islamabad High Court has indicted former Gilgit-Baltistan chief justice Rana Shamim in a contempt of court case and said the latter had committed contempt of court in order to taint the credibility of the Islamabad High Court.

“The said affidavit which remained unknown for three years suddenly surfaced. Ironically, the judge against whom allegations have been levelled is not even a member of the bench who was hearing the case in question.”

“We should learn from history,” he stressed.

In an apparent reference to former premier Nawaz Sharif, the foreign minister said that it was obvious in which city the oath was taken.

“On the one hand, everyone is calling for the independence of the judiciary, but they do entirely the opposite to it.”

“There were attacks on the Supreme Court and an attempt was made to take a decision from Justice Qayyum but nothing proved beneficial.”

He said that the Rana Shamim issue is sub judice and he could not discuss it further, adding: “All of us should take notice of this, this is a dangerous matter.”

Economy rebounding

Commenting on the economic woes, the foreign minister said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has grappled with challenges and taken several tough decisions pertaining to the economy in the last three years, adding the government’s efforts have finally yielded positive results. He said the economy was growing at 5.3 per cent.

Qureshi regretted that the opposition was indulging in criticism for the sake of criticism.

However, addressing the severe criticism from the opposition lawmakers over rising prices, he admitted that the opposition was right in raising the issue of inflation and the surge in price of fertiliser but regretted that the fuming against the government was not helping the situation.

He went on to say that higher inflation was a challenge for the government and not the opposition, urging the opposition to not fuel fear-mongering and instead play a positive role in it.

 ‘Govt hard on gas theft’

Lashing out at the opposition’s aspersions about incumbent government’s handling of gas and energy, Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said that the opposition parties lacked courage to listen to the PTI government.

“We cannot take lengthy ‘Pakistan Studies’ lectures from the opposition. PML-N left the country bankrupt and achieved only 5.4% growth,” he added, responding to PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal.

Meanwhile, he also categorically stated that gas theft will not be tolerated in any part of the country.

Responding to a calling attention, Azhar said that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited has significantly reduced its system losses from 12.5 per cent to 8.5 per cent over the last three years.

He stressed the need to bring further improvement in Sui Southern Gas Company Limited as “the country’s gas reserves are depleting at the rate of nine per cent annually”.

Hammad Azhar introduced before the house the Private Power and Infrastructure Board Amendment Bill, 2022.

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