Fazl says govt is ‘pressuring’ parties to participate in joint Parliament session

Maulana Fazl Rehman. Photo: AFP

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the ruling PTI is “forcing political parties with smaller representation to attend the joint Parliament session.”

The statement from the PDM chief comes after the government’s announcement to convene the joint Parliament session on Wednesday.

The government has been trying to earn the favour of its political allies — the PML-Q and the MQM-P — for the bills on electronic voting machines (EVMs), NAB, and other issues it plans to table in the Parliament session since the allies have expressed concerns on the legislation proposed by the government.

Fazl, while addressing a press conference along with other Opposition leaders in Quetta on Tuesday, said that the incumbent government is ruling on a “fake” majority.

“The incompetent rulers are gearing up to extend their rule [by getting the bills passed in the Parliament],” he said.

Fazl equated the Opposition’s campaign against the government with “jihad” as he said “struggling against such elements is jihad.”

He claimed that the Opposition parties’ lawmakers had received calls, asking them to not attend the joint session.

The PDM chief went on to say that someone else was “pulling the strings of the government”, as it could not function on its own. “The country is running under oppression.”

Fazl advised the government that if it introduced legislation in the Parliament through coercion, it would hold no value. “I have a lot to say.”

Meeting with Bilawal

Speaking of his meeting with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, Fazl said he had visited him as “his doors were not closed for anyone.”

The PPP chairman had last week met Fazl, with the meeting culminating in both leaders deciding to adopt a joint strategy against the PTI government in the Parliament.

PDM prepares to move top court against ‘controversial’ bills

The PDM, a day earlier, had decided to challenge the government’s “controversial” bills in the Supreme Court and ramp up the Opposition alliance’s country-wide protests.

In a virtual meeting, with PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the chair, the alliance tasked JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza, PML-N Deputy Secretary Atta Tarar, and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to prepare legal grounds for challenging the bills in the top court, a statement said.

The “controversial” bills include The National Accountability (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, electronic voting machine, and the bill which seeks to “curtail” the State Bank of Pakistan’s powers and “handing it over to the International Monetary Fund”.

“The [participants of the meeting decided to call a meeting of PDM’s steering committee on November 22, in which legal suggestions against the government’s bills will be presented,” the statement said.

The steering committee has also been asked to make recommendations for the “decisive” anti-government long march and present them in the PDM leadership’s meeting on November 23.

The Nov 23 meeting will give the final nod for the long march, the statement said.

PM ‘surprised’ to see Opposition resisting technology

Later in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said he finds it surprising the Opposition is fearful of a machine, referring to the electronic voting machine the government aims to introduce prior to the next general elections so voting can take place “transparently”.

His remarks came during the launch ceremony of the Lilla Jhelum Dual Carriageway, which was inaugurated with the touch of a button on a large display screen by the premier.

“I was reflecting on the fact that we used technology and inaugurated this project with the touch of a hand, and that technology has come so far.

“I am surprised to see the Opposition [resist technology], insisting that voting take place traditionally,” the prime minister said.

He said, “the whole world” now uses technology for voting so it can be a better, more transparent exercise.

“I am surprised the Opposition have a problem with it; they are afraid of a machine or I don’t know of what,” PM Imran Khan said.

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