Opposition absentees outnumbered their counterparts on the treasury benches during the joint sitting of parliament on Wednesday, which passed three bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), official records revealed Thursday.
According to The Express Tribune, the attendance record released by the National Assembly Secretariat showed that more than two dozen opposition lawmakers did not turn up for the joint sitting, including 13 from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and 11 from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
From the treasury side, those conspicuous for their absence were Asim Nazir, Amir Liaquat Hussain, Ahmed Hussain Dehar and Abdul Majeed Khan of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Chaudhry Moonis Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League.
In the parliamentary session, 317 members of National Assembly, out of the Lower House’s current strength of 340, were present. From the Upper House of parliament, which currently has 103 members, around 14 opposition senators were absent.
The prominent absentees included former president Asif Zardari, who did not attend because of illness and Syed Khurshid Shah, who is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau. Besides these two top PPP lawmakers, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), was also absent.
The list also includes Amir Haider Hoti of the Awami National Party (ANP), Ali Wazir, a lawmaker from the former tribal areas, Afrin Khan of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), PML-N’s Afzal Khokhar, Ahmad Raza Maneka, Ehsanul Haq Bajwa and Riaz Pirzada and the PPP’s Makhdoom Jamiluz Zaman, Amir Magsi, Khalid Loond, Roshan Junejo and Ghulam Ali Talpur.
According to the attendance record, the senators who skipped Wednesday’s joint sitting were PML-N senators Kulsoom Parveen, Chaudhry Tanveer, Shamim Afridi, Raheela Magsi, Saleem Zia, Dilawar Khan, Yaqub Nasir and Najma Hameed.
Other absentee senators were Talha Mahmood and Ataur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Rubina Khalid of the PPP, Sitara Ayaz of the ANP, Ashok Kumar of the National Party (NP) and Tahir Bizenjo and Shafiq Tareen of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).
PASSAGE OF FATF BILLS:
Earlier, the government on Wednesday managed to pass three crucial FATF-related laws in a joint session of the parliament that was marred by the opposition’s protests.
Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan also attended the joint session which was chaired by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others, including senators Sirajul Haq, Mushtaq Ghani and Raza Rabbani among others were also in attendance.
After walking out in protest, opposition leaders held a joint press conference and criticised the government over the passage of FATF-related bills.
Opposition leader Shehbaz termed today as a “black day in the history of democracy”. He said that the government “crossed red lines” today and added that “until now, the opposition cooperated with the government for the sake of Pakistan”.
The PML-N president also said that the NA speaker had “disappointed everyone”.
PPP chief Bilawal also lashed out at the government, saying that the vote count could have been conducted again but the treasury members were “scared of being exposed”.
“The opposition only has one option remaining and that is [to move] a no-confidence [motion],” said Bilawal.
Both Shehbaz and Bilawal told reporters that the opposition will come up with a strategy in the multi-party conference.