Parliament House was strangulated after May 9 incidents: Farhatullah Babar

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar in this undated image.  - Application
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar in this undated image. – Application
  • The PPP leader says that equal opportunities should be ensured.
  • “Making Parliament Relevant” organized by PIDE.
  • Khokhar says the upcoming parliament will be “hostage”.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar has said that the jurisdiction of Parliament was “strangled” following the violent protests on May 9. news Reported on Monday.

The PPP leader commented, “Parliament’s position has weakened after the May 9 incident and now there is a need to hold free and fair elections, where level playing field should be provided to all political parties.”

He expressed these views while addressing a session on “Making Parliament Relevant” at the Econ-Fest organized by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economists (PIDE) in collaboration with other partners at the Pak-China Center on Sunday.

Babar said Parliament became relevant when it implemented the 1973 Constitution and the 18th Amendment and this was the stage when non-democratic forces became weak. He said, Parliament has increased its position. However, it became irrelevant when it passed laws wholesale before the completion of the PDM-led tenure.

Other political leaders and experts also called for free and fair elections and parliamentary reforms to strengthen the legislature and make it relevant, including recalling representatives who have lost confidence in their voters.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a former MP who resigned from the PPP, said on the occasion that the previous parliament was “elected” and he could predict that the upcoming parliament would be “hostage”.

He suggested reforms within the Parliament, including “recalling representatives” in case of a post-election scandal or other issue, as 10% of voters in the constituency showed no confidence in the elected representative. This should be the right of the voters of the constituency.

Secondly, he said that there should be a “Register of Interest” in Parliament, whereby every elected member should be prevented from taking part in any discussion having conflict of interest in case of any aspect of the issue concerned.

Khokhar also said that there were Articles 8 to 28 of the Constitution, which dealt with basic fundamental rights and the judiciary had to protect the basic human rights enshrined in our 1973 Constitution.

He said that independent judiciary is a myth as it has failed to protect the basic fundamental rights of the citizens.

Civil society representative Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said Parliament is relevant but it must ensure transparency to restore public confidence.

Giving an example, he said that he tried to get information on how many members had attended parliamentary proceedings but it was declared privileged information which could not be shared with anyone.

In another session on combating poverty, a guest, Indian economist and author Surjit Bhalla, said that the poverty line should be determined separately for each country as it is just a reference point, not a political point.

He said the calorie intake formula for calculating the poverty line was changed because it was a flawed method. An example he gave was that a survey found that 83% of women in the United States were undernourished, which the World Bank refused to publish. Poverty has become a business, he said. He suggested starting with the lower quintile of income as the basis for ascertaining poverty levels.

To prove anything there was a need to show evidence. He said that there should not be poverty of ideas. Inclusive growth on a sustained basis can help reduce poverty. PIDE Vice-Chancellor Dr Nadeem Ul Haq said that high and sustained growth can provide the way forward.

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