President to address joint sitting on Oct 3

President Arif Alvi will address the joint sitting of parliament on October 3 which will formally mark the beginning of the final parliamentary year of the present National Assembly.

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the lawmakers were busy in relief work in the flood-hit areas due to which the session was not called urgently.

The speaker made these remarks while hosting a lunch in honour of the Parliamentary Reporters Association on Thursday.

Last month, well-placed sources had hinted that a special joint sitting of the two houses of parliament before the commencement of the new parliamentary year was likely to mushroom into another constitutional controversy as the president had refused to deliver the address based on the text provided by the government.

As per the tradition, the text contained progress reports submitted by ministries and departments, highlighting the performance of the government. The president was not supposed to ignore the government’s text.

Article 226, Clause 3 reads: “[(3) At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the National Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year the president shall address both houses assembled together and inform the Majlis-e-Shura (Parliament) of the causes of its summons.]

Meanwhile, under the constitutional obligation, the annual ritual is supposed to be preceded by a joint sitting of the two houses, which is technically still in session and will meet again on October 3.

Alvi in the past was censured by the previous opposition parties for allegedly undermining parliament by issuing a record number of ordinances under the PTI government.

The opposition had also threatened to move a resolution for his impeachment when the apex court overturned his notifications regarding the appointment of the ECP members and the extension in the tenure of the army chief.

The president had refused to administer oath to Shehbaz Sharif after his election as the country’s premier in April this year following the ouster of Imran Khan from the office through a no-trust vote.

On the issue of 131 PTI lawmakers’ resignations from the National Assembly, Ashraf on Thursday said he had tried his best to verify them according to the law.

The NA speaker said a few legislators of the former ruling party were reported to have resigned under duress. He said the PTI members were not drawing salaries but had been using the lodges.

He said the Independence Day celebrations were held for three days at the Parliament House, which was opened to the public.

Ashraf maintained they opened the parliament for the first time in history for the women, children and transgender. “It was an attempt to make this elected house a people’s parliament.”

“Instead of responding to people who raise objections, we continue to focus to work positively,” he added.

Responding to the criticism on his Canada visit to attend the 65th Common Wealth Parliamentary conference, the NA speaker maintained that a delegation of more than 100 people had come from India for the purpose while “we were only four”.

He said they were accused of spending $1.6 million during the tour, adding that “it was a baseless allegation. Our budget was of only a few thousand dollars”.

Ashraf said Pakistan did not contribute even one per cent to the carbon emissions but was among world's top five countries that were badly affected by its adverse effects.

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