PA opposition boycotts vote of confidence
* Calls it the darkest day in Pakistan’s history
LAHORE: The opposition boycotted the vote of confidence for President Pervez Musharraf in the Punjab Assembly (PA) on Thursday, saying Pakistanis would remember the day as the darkest in the political and constitutional history of Pakistan.
Opposition leader in the PA Qasim Zia and his deputy Rana Sanaullah, joined by other opposition members, held a press conference soon after they boycotted the special PA session and said that “the day was the worst in Pakistan’s history”.
He said the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) lawmakers who claimed to be protecting the Constitution through a deal with the government had disappointed the nation by keeping quiet during the “unconstitutional voting”. He said the MMA had proved that it was a “Mulla-Military Alliance”, adding that the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy had hoped the MMA would join it in a fight against dictatorship, but the religious parties’ alliance joined hands with a dictator.
He accused President Musharraf of spending Rs 100 million from national exchequer to get the vote of confidence. The lawmakers of the Electoral College were threatened at the Army House in Rawalpindi and ordered to be present for the vote of confidence to President Musharraf, he alleged. He said General Musharraf and his supporters would eventually have to answer to the people.
The opposition leaders pledged to continue fighting to protect the Constitution and for democratic institutions. They said the opposition would accelerate its fight inside and outside parliament and fight the government’s “unconstitutional” steps through people power.
Sharia Bill axed as part of deal
LAHORE: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) has decided not to pursue the Sharia Bill in the National Assembly, which was moved by late Maulana Azam Tariq and Maulana Hamidul Haqani, party sources told Daily Times on Thursday. Sources claimed the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leaders had asked the JUI-S not to pursue the bill because the government during its talks with the MMA on the Legal Framework Order (LFO) had demanded that the religious alliance would not pursue Sharia or any other Islamic legislation bill. The sources added that the government in return assured the MMA that there would be amendments in any Islamic article of the 1973 Constitution. JUI-S Secretary General Maulana Yousaf Shah told Daily Times that the party would follow the MMA leaders decision regarding the Sharia Bill. Maulana Yousaf said his party had asked the MMA leaders to set the Sharia Bill as a condition during its meetings with the government on LFO, but the MMA leaders refused, saying that this condition could affect the deal. Maulana Yousaf said the JUI-S would now press the MMA to start efforts to end the operations of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in Pakistan. Maulana Azam Tariq and Maulana Haqani of the JUI-S had moved the Shariah Bill in the National Assembly in June 2003, but debate on the bill was postponed on the request of the government. The JUI-S had announced their continued support for the bill after the murder of Maulana Tariq. —Amir Rana