A constitutional amendment bill was moved in the National Assembly on Thursday, seeking ban on candidates contesting elections on multiple seats, while the lawmakers debated the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) long march towards the federal capital.
Maulana Akbar Chitrali presented the bill seeking amendment to the Article 223 of the Constitution, which allowed candidates to contest elections on multiple seats. The bill was admitted by a majority vote and then sent to relevant committee further deliberations.
Chitrali said that the Constitution allowed citizens to contest elections from multiple constituencies but in case of multiple victories, the winning candidate was required to retain only one seat, and relinquish the remaining seats. "It is completely illogical,” he said, adding that it also puts strains on the national resources.
"Rs27 million expenditure was incurred on each constituency in general elections of 2018," Chitrali told the house. “According to the fresh estimate Rs46 billion is required for elections on national and provincial seats and if this amount is divided per seat, the cost comes Rs100 million,” he added.
"It is completely illogical that one candidate contests elections on eight different seats and later retains only one, relinquishing the rest," Chitrali said, adding that it was not just the injustice with the voters but also a "great loss to the national kitty".
He requested the house to put a bar on such people, through an amendment to the Constitution. The bill was not opposed by the government and subsequently Speaker Raja Parvaiz Asharf referred it to the committee concerned for further deliberations.
Meanwhile, the speaker rejected three bills of Muhammad Jamaluddin about amendment to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Act; National University of Science and Technology Act; and the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences Ordinance.
The speaker referred three more bills to the committees concerned regarding the establishment of Federal Ziauddin University in Islamabad; the bill to regulate registration and facilitation of non-governmental organisations and trusts in the federal capital; and the bill for establishing infectious disease monitoring and control center in Islamabad.
During the debate on the current political situation in the country, Opposition Leader Raja Riaz demanded of the federal government to take necessary action against the PTI for blocking roads in Punjab during its long march. He charged that hooliganism continued in Punjab.
Riaz stressed that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Slaman was coming to Pakistan the PTI march aimed at sabotaging the visit. Previously, he added, the PTI also staged a sit-in in the federal capital to delay the visit of Chinese president in 2014.
“There are 20 people at one place and 40 at the other, but the roads are closed in Punjab. Even people are unable to go to the funeral,” Riaz said. “Instead of being soft, the federal government should take action in this regard,” he added.
Taking part in the debate, Federal Minister Mian Javed Latif criticised the PTI chairman, accusing him of damaging the country’s foreign and domestic policies. He wondered “why the PTI was putting pressure and on whom”.
Meanwhile, Chitrali welcomed the government announcement of withdrawal of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Bank of Pakistan’s (NBP) appeals against the Federal Shariat Court’s judgment about elimination interest-based banking system in the country.
However, he asked the government why some other banks had not withdrawn their petitions, and what action the government intended to take against them. The government should cancel the licences of those banks through the SBP, he added.
During the session, the speaker announced that the majority of dissident PTI members had elected Dr Afzal Dandla as their parliamentary leader. Previously, Ahmed Hussain Dehar was the parliamentary leader of the dissident PTI members.
Also attention of the house was drawn towards the non-incorporation of the affidavit about Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as Khatam-ul-Nabiyeen in the marriage certificate [Nikanama]. The speaker referred the matter to the relevant committee.
(With additional input from APP)