Press Gallery: 20th amendment: Who gets the better bargain?
20th amendment: Who gets the better bargain?
Islamabad: The beleaguered government of Mr. Gilani seems to have agreed to majority of the demands of Nawaz League to ensure that 28 provincial and federal members of parliaments remain intact but is learnt to have hit another rip(off) on Thursday as mini pressure groups have also come up with their list of demands before signing the much awaited 20th amendment.
Five days of long-drawn-out parleys with Nawaz League turned out to be a win-win situation for Shahbaz Sharif because he not only managed to bag federally controlled Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Lahore but also got approval for taking control over the collection of charities by seizing Auqaf ministry besides getting the nod to have complete control over issuance of license for energy demands or even drug-deals with foreign investors. (Turks may be happy on this because they are considered as the one favourite off-shore place where Sharifs have lately developed special affection.)
On the face of it, Nawaz League never asked for these things and would never like to make them public as well because all these past five days they have been trying to tell the nation that their opposition is based on principles of fair play. Whether we should appreciate their deal-making expertise or trans-national perspective is not a question here because no matter what whenever there is a vote on any constitutional amendment, everyone takes the situation (or state) for a free ride.
At the time of 18th amendment we saw many parliamentarians, especially from the born-independent group of FATA getting the keys of bungalows from the official estate agent of the state also known as Bahria Malik. Though some TV anchors also washed their hands in the same windfall, yet the government continued to be on the table when issue of 19th amendment surfaced. Instead of improving the governance or learning from the past, government—and remind you this has been the case even when we had a two-third-majority prime minister in office as well—preferred to shower the state fortunes on needy parliamentarians.
Sweets were being distributed outside the parleys room in the parliament on late Wednesday night amidst concerns that Nawaz League might come up with more demands as they have done in the past four days. The initial draft of the 20th amendment was to get the approval of the parliament to cover up the usual bad governance of the government for failing to complete the election commission within stipulated time period. However, by bringing this piece of legislation the aim was to give a back dated (19th April, 2010 when 18th amendment was signed into action by President Zardari) validation to the bye-elections held since the enactment of the 18th amendment. Imported Dr Hafeez Shaikh, floated Dr Asim and many other notables were suspended by the Supreme Court on 6th February, because government failed to get consensus on the bill from the parliament by that date. The bill was moved on 18th of January and after referral got approved from the parliamentary committee as well.
At the start of this session when the bill was expected to be tabled in the National Assembly, we heard a very passionate speech from Ch. Nisar, the leader of opposition telling the galleries that it’s not only a one time bill, but altogether their four points need to be included. Now as of last night what remains ashamedly open is that by making it one time bill, extending the duration of the election commission members to five years each and ensuring that caretaker set up is brought in with consensus, the fourth condition of reverting the increase in oil prices remained unattended. Instead, Sharifs bagged more for themselves to savor than to care about the miserable masses.
But the matter is not over by any means, because as we were hearing from the corridors of the parliament that now MQM has also opened their demand list which for the face of it asks the government to give them representation in the six member committee (three each from PPP and PML (N)) which will finalize the names for the caretaker setup after the upcoming budget session. Certainly, that’s not the only thing with which they want to pressurize the government because they have been sitting on the back benches in Sindh coalition and would like to take if not lion’s share like Sharifs did, but some better ministries and some better maneuverability so that they can also ensure their grip in the city for the forthcoming general elections, leaked one of the senior parliamentarian privy to the on-going talks.
The next in line for the same purpose are our misunderstood friends from FATA, because they consider themselves to be on the mercy of every government when there is no voting going on and when it comes to budgetary or any amendment voting they don’t want to be left behind Sharifs or Bhai logs.
Tags: 20th Amendment , Gilani , Shahbaz Sharif , FATA , MQM , Nawaz
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