By Raja Pervaiz
ISLAMABAD: A senator belonging to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has called for eliminating the role of caretaker governments during the interim period between the expiry of a government’s term and completion of the process for general elections.
Speaking in the Senate, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum said: “In my view it’s a futile effort to appoint an interim government.”
The outgoing government, he said, should switch over to transitional mode for the conduct of general elections till the next elected government took over.
“If we have trust and faith in the country’s institutions, including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and our own honesty and integrity, the outgoing government should conduct elections and transfer power to the next elected government,” he remarked.
He said the PML-N had won a number of by-polls and lost some over the past five years, but nobody raised an objection over these by-elections. “The interim set-up which interrupts in between would not be in our interest in the long run. We should consider strengthening the ECP further and move forward,” he remarked.
Mr Qayyum rejected the opposition’s criticism of the budget and said a few countries, including Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea and Hong Kong, had surplus budgets, while the United States, China, Japan and India had deficit budgets.
He justified the increase in debt, saying that the amount had been utilised in mega projects. Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman called for changes to strengthen the foundations of the upper house of parliament.
“The Senate of Pakistan must have powers not only to give recommendations but also to vote for the Money Bill,” she said.
The Money Bill, she added, was parliament’s most important piece of legislation. “It is Pakistan’s roadmap for the year. Given that the Senate represents the crucial balance of powers between the provinces and the federation, the upper house must be allowed to vote on it in the larger interest of the country.”
Last year, Ms Rehman said, the Senate passed a resolution unanimously asking the government to make necessary amendments to the Constitution to empower the upper house to block the Money Bill, including the Finance Bill, but nothing was done.
Citing examples of other countries, she said the senate in Thailand rejected controversial amnesty and finance bills on numerous occasions. Moreover, the US senators have exclusive powers to conduct impeachment of presidents and other high officials.
“This is not about politics; this is about strengthening the Senate which is extremely important for our people. We need parliament to become a house of public service for the people and we need to make an action plan with all stakeholders in the Senate,” Ms Rehman said.
The idea of the Senate having a role in the Money Bill was endorsed by the members from both sides of the aisle. Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani referred to a resolution passed by the Senate to this effect.
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily