PA adopts resolution to rejoin Commonwealth body
By Qamar Jabbar
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution regarding the reinstatement of the membership of the Punjab Assembly to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
Punjab Law and Local Bodies Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja moved the resolution. He said the Punjab Assembly agreed to abide by the provisions of the CPA Constitution. The house suggested that the required membership fee be paid to the CPA and the resolution be communicated to the CPA Secretariat immediately.
The opposition first opposed the resolution, saying that the Commonwealth had restored the membership of Pakistan on the assurance that a “true democracy” would be restored after December 31, when the president is supposed to quit as army chief. They said that the ruling party had a dual policy. “On one side it is adopting a resolution for the CPA membership while on the other hand it is requesting the president to remain in army uniform for another five years,” opposition legislators said.
They said that Pakistan’s Commonwealth membership would be cancelled if President Musharraf did not shed his uniform by December 31. They added that the opposition was ready to adopt the resolution if the ruling party assured them that it would not adopt any resolution in favour of the president’s uniforms.
Punjab Law Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja assured the house that the government would obey the constitutional laws. He said that Commonwealth countries had their own reservation and despite a uniformed president they had restored the membership of Pakistan. “It was a matter of ignominy that the leadership of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) tried its best to block Pakistan’s membership to the Commonwealth,” he said. He said that the ARD leaders wrote letters to Commonwealth members that the membership of Pakistan should not be restored because “there was no democracy in the country”.
Deputy Speaker Sardar Shaukat Hussain Mazari, while supporting the resolution, said a Commonwealth delegation had visited the Punjab Assembly and they recommended the assembly’s reinstatement to the CPA. He said that the national and other provincial assemblies had also adopted the same resolution unanimously so the Punjab Assembly should also adopt it jointly.
Opposition members Rana Sanaullah Khan, Raja Shafqat Abbasi, Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan, Raja Riaz and Dr Wasim Akhtar opposed the resolution. They said President Musharraf had assured the Commonwealth about shedding his uniform. They said that no chief minister other than Pervaiz Elahi had supported the president’s uniform. They said the CPA had linked the restoration of Pakistan’s membership with the restoration of democracy but the chief minister’s statement had created the wrong impression.
Four elected members – Malik Khalid Mehmood Waran for PP-269, Chaudhry Shoaib Kareem from PP-275, Dr Muhammad Afzal from PP-276 and Muhammad Shoaib Sadiqui from PP-156 – took oath as Punjab Assembly members. Mr Mazari administrated the oath. Punjab Assembly members also expressed grief over the death of former Punjab Assembly member Maulana Mufti Ghulam Fareed Hazarvi. They offered fateha for him. Replying to a call attention notice moved by PML-N legislator Rana Sanaullah Khan regarding the murder of Pir Binyamin Rizvi, the Punjab law minister told the house that Model Town CIA DSP Zameerul Hassan was investigating the case. He said police had started questioning ten people. Four suspects have been arrested, he said.