President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday had a late night meeting with his coalition partners to discuss the proposed amendments to the contempt of court and dual nationality laws as the opposition parties made their own strategy to oppose the amendment bills.
The meeting was co-chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and attended by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Shujaat Hussain, Pervez Elahi, Haji Adeel, Afrasiab Khattak, Farooq Sattar, Nadeem Ahsan, Mir Israrullah Zehri, Abbas Khan Afridi and Munir Khan Orakzai.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Law Minister Farooq Naik and Spokesman to the President Farhatullah Babar were also present.
Later, the president’s spokesman told reporters that the law minister briefed the meeting on the legislative measures proposed to be placed before the National Assembly and the Senate during the current session.
Naik told the meeting about the rationale and background of the proposed legislative measures which had already been approved by the cabinet.
He said a constitutional amendment bill, called the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill, would be placed before the National Assembly to increase the family pension from 50 percent to 75 percent for the widows of
judges of the Supreme Court and high courts. He said the 22nd Constitutional Amendment sought to remove impediments in the way of Pakistanis holding dual nationalities from contesting election to parliament.
Babar said many countries of the world permitted the holding of dual nationalities/citizenships and the Pakistan Citizenship Act also permitted dual nationality.
Naik said it had been a longstanding demand of overseas Pakistanis that there should be no impediments in their way to run for the national parliament. “Through the proposed amendment in Article 63 (1)(c) the constitutional bar on the dual nationality holders to be members of parliament would be lifted,” he said.
He said the third legislative measure pertained to enacting a law relating to the contempt of court. He said the proposed contempt law was a blend of the powers of the court to punish for its contempt with the right of citizens in a democracy for fair comments and criticism.
He explained that the proposed law provided for punishment for contempt as well as full opportunity to the accused of a fair trial, including transparent procedures for right to appeal. He said the right for appeal was being streamlined in the bill.
The law minister said the fourth legislative measures was an ordinance that would be placed before the National Assembly to validate acts, orders and other instruments made and issued from April 26 to June 19 by former prime minister Gilani.
Prime Minister Ashraf also briefed the meeting on the current energy situation and the measures taken to address the issue. He said the power situation was steadily improving and the government was keeping a strict watch on the progress in addressing the issue of energy shortages.
The president’s spokesman said the coalition partners reiterated their support to the government.
Opposition: Meanwhile, the main opposition party decided to oppose the dual nationality bill.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Nisar Ali Khan reiterated his party’s stance, saying that the PML-N would oppose the dual nationality and contempt of court amendments in parliament.
In a statement issued by his office on Friday, Nisar said the government was trying to make parliament a rubberstamp due to its policies and would have to face protests by the opposition in the coming National Assembly sessions.
Nisar said the government had restored NATO supply routes violating parliamentary resolutions, which was not acceptable.
The opposition leader highlighted the issues of load shedding, price hike, unemployment and lawlessness, saying that the common man’s life had become a nightmare due to these problems.
The PML Likeminded also decided to oppose the bill with party leader, Kashmala Tariq saying that the amendment would endanger the solidarity of the country, adding that the people who wanted to amend the constitution were working for the promotion of foreign agenda in Pakistan.