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PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, ANP’s Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and JUI-F’s Asad Mehmood speak to the media in this file photo. — Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition in the parliament is meeting on Saturday (today) to decide how and when it will challenge in court what it calls “illegal and unconstitutional bulldozing of legislation” by the PTI government through the joint sitting of parliament on Thursday.

The decision to present the issue before the joint opposition was taken by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif while presiding over a meeting of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Parliamentary Advisory Group. The group supported the proposal of Mr Sharif, who is president of the PML-N, to challenge the passage of 33 bills in the joint sitting in court.

The bills passed in the joint sitting included those related to use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in next general elections and grant of right of vote to overseas Pakistanis and amendments to accountability law that extends the tenure of incumbent National Accountability Bureau chairman till appointment of the new chief of the anti-graft watchdog.

Strategy to challenge ‘bulldozed’ legislation to be thrashed out

According to PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, the meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Advisory Group was held in the opposition leader’s chamber in Parliament House.

“The meeting discussed the issue of bulldozing the government’s legislation in the joint sitting of the parliament and decided that the united opposition would challenge the government’s fascism and unconstitutionality inside and outside parliament,” she added.

Talking to Dawn, she said the steering committee of the joint parliamentary opposition, including the Pakistan Peoples Par­ty (PPP), would meet on Saturday (today) to decided how and when the passage of the bills would be challenged in court.

“A legal panel of opposition parties will deeply look into pros and cons of challenging the passage of bills and will prepare flawless a petition,” she added.

Asked if the PPP had agreed to jointly challenge the bills, despite some differences with the PML-N, she said the PPP was part of the united opposition in the parliament.

In the beginning, the PPP was part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement but it left the opposition parties’ alliance after it was given a show cause notice for “backtracking” from its earlier agreed formula for top Senate offices, unilaterally nominated Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani for the opposition leader’s office and started lobbying for it.

Ms Aurangzeb said the PML-N group’s meeting was briefed on the challenge likely to be faced by the united opposition in the court.

She said the meeting condemned the government’s bullying in the joint session and noted that it was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that electoral reforms were introduced without consensus.

Speaking in the meeting, Shehbaz Sharif said the constitution did not recognise the government legislation as legal and termed the laws “decrees” of Imran Niazi” (Prime Minister Imran Khan).

He was quoted as saying: “The government, which has been bombing the people with inflation, carried out a suicide attack on the parliament. After being disgraced by the people, the PTI government is now attacking the constitution.”

The PML-N president said the statement of the Election Commission of Pakistan on the use of EVM in next general elections was a proof of wrongness of the government’s legislation on EVM.

“Imran Niazi won’t be allowed to continue to rule Pakistan anymore,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr Sharif said that LPG, flour, sugar, medicine, electricity and gas were out of reach of the people and the government was rubbing salt on the wounds of the poor, who couldn’t afford a kilogramme of flour or sugar. On the other hand, he added, the prime minister was showing false dreams of new and prosperous Pakistan to the people.

The opposition leader said he appreciated the unity and spirit of the opposition. “Op­­pressors, enemies of the people and those who support the law-breaking government are the culprits of the people, and wou­­ld soon face exemplary justice,” he added.

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