President’s sending back election laws bill

PTI makes President a partisan tool

President Arif Alvi has returned to the PM two bills for reconsideration the two bills it had passed for change back the election laws, and to amend the NAB law. The bills will now be reconsidered, and if passed again, will become law whether or not the President accords assent. The election laws bill is not just a reversal of the PTI’s legislation, and the NAB law amendment based on the PTI government’s tigersih pursuit of opposition leaders, but also represents the sum total of the coalition government’s legislative programme, which it hope to achieve before going for fresh elections.

However, that is not really the reason for the President to give assent. That is so because it is below the dignity of the office for it to be used for partisan purposes. President Alvi has raised a number of specific arguments to both bills. He has had to raise them because his party, the PTI, has hastily resigned from the National Assembly, and has no other forum to make those points. It might have been satisfying to ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan and his acolytes to protest the fall of his government, even though that resulted from the passage of a constitutionally sanctioned vote of no-confidence, but one result has been that the PTI has lost the ability to oppose the government within the House. That job, so essential in a democratic dispensation, has been left to the President.

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It should not be forgotten that a president in a parliamentary system of government is supposed to play a restraining role, but is supposed to be neutral, this so that no party identifies him with its interests to the detriment of other parties. President Alvi runs the risk of over-using the right to ask for reconsideration, and of being seen as a partisan plater rather than the neutral umpire the Constitution contemplates. Some, indeed many, would say that he has already crossed that point. If so, he is in serious danger of having compromised the office he holds, which is too high a price to pay for a transient popularity in the ranks of the party faithful. The PTI has an increasingly diminishing opportunity to take back its resignations from the National Assembly. It should do so, and thus relieve the President of the need to play the opposition as well. That is inherently a false position, for the President, after all, is head of the executive and the present government is his government.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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