Par­lia­men­tary sovereignty: A bea­con of light amid gloom

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

Amidst a myr­iad of ter­ri­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic prob­lems like ter­ror­ism, en­ergy short­ages and cen­trifu­gal ten­den­cies con­fronting Pak­istan to­day, there is a sil­ver lin­ing across the hori­zon—land­mark steps taken to­wards restor­ing and strength­en­ing par­lia­men­tary sovereignty.

Back- to- back con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments in re­cent years are termed as sig­nif­i­cant steps to­wards restor­ing to the par­lia­ment its right­ful place as the pivot around which the dream of na­tional in­te­gra­tion could be made a re­al­ity, says a cross sec­tion of opin­ion lead­ers. They pointed out that pre­vail­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions were due to the world eco­nomic melt­down with signs lately emerg­ing of a global re­cov­ery while on the po­lit­i­cal side, Pak­istan was try­ing to cope as best as it could from the fall­out of the sit­u­a­tion in neigh­bour­ing Afghanistan and si­mul­ta­ne­ously fight­ing ter­ror­ism at home.

As the cur­rent par­lia­ment lives out its manda­tory life in the next week or so, it can look back with a sense of achieve­ment at the pas­sage of 18th, 19th and 20th amend­ments.

As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a coun­try in­hab­ited by di­verse eth­nic, re­gional and re­li­gious groups, the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans can well and truly speak for the as­pi­ra­tions of a plu­ral­is­tic so­ci­ety. Former fed­eral min­is­ter and an em­i­nent jurist, Dr. Baber Awan, says the cur­rent par­lia­ment had per­formed well in strength­en­ing the bonds of na­tional co­he­sion and in­te­gra­tion as par­lia­men­tar­i­ans from far cor­ners of the coun­try, rep­re­sent­ing a ta­pes­try of races, lan­guages and cul­tures, raised is­sues of their par­tic­u­lar con­stituen­cies on the par­lia­men­tary plat­form.

Dr. Baber Awan listed three pri­or­i­ties which, he said, were es­sen­tial for achiev­ing na­tional in­te­gra­tion by the elected par­lia­ment. Th­ese pri­or­i­ties, he said, were 1) to give a le­gal roadmap in ac­cor­dance with the as­pi­ra­tions of the peo­ple, 2) to lay down prin­ci­ples of pol­icy for the so­cio-eco­nomic ac­tion and 3) to give hope to the masses for the fu­ture.

The cur­rent bi­cam­eral par­lia­ment, com­pris­ing 342-seat Na­tional As­sem­bly and 102-mem­ber Se­nate, is the ninth leg­is­la­ture brought into be­ing un­der the 1973 Con­sti­tu­tion. In the in­ter­reg­num be­tween 1978 and 2008, the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tors, Messrs Muham­mad Zi­aul Haq and Pervez Mushar­raf, tin­kered with the unan­i­mously- adopted 1973 Con­sti­tu­tion, both ma­nip­u­lat­ing amend­ments, which dis­fig­ured it al­most be­yond recog­ni­tion.

“Though the Pak­istani par­lia­ment has yet to go a long way in as­sert­ing its full author­ity, the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments, 18th to 20th, can be looked at with a sense of pride by the out­go­ing par­lia­ment”, says former Se­na­tor Saf­dar Ab­basi. PML-N leader Kh­waja Muham­mad Asif said it was “in­cum­bent upon the vot­ers to sift right from the wrong in a bid to elect really wor­thy can­di­dates to the par­lia­ment”. It may be re­called that the 18th Amend­ment was passed by par­lia­ment to off­set the dev­as­tat­ing fall­out of the Eighth Amend­ment in­serted in the con­sti­tu­tion at the be­hest of late dic­ta­tor Gen. Zi­aul Haq.

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