|Friday, 06 July 2012 13:51|
ISLAMABAD: Top leaders from the Pakistan Peoples Party held a huddle on Thursday ahead of a crucial National Assembly session starting today to take up a key constitutional amendment bill seeking protection of dual national Pakistanis from disqualification as MPs.
The meeting also brainstormed on how to win support from angry allies for a proposed legislation seeking immunity for all national and provincial leaders from contempt of court proceedings until they occupy a constitutional office.
Presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the meeting continued till after midnight.
Little details emerged from the closed doors of the presidency, while some insiders said the meeting briefed by Law Minister Farooq H Naek on both the constitutional amendment and the bill.
The bill seeking protection of the holders of all the constitutional posts is likely being tabled in the National Assembly today and some officials said it might be passed by this weekend or the next.
A Senate session has also been called for July 9, to pass the bill and tune it into a law as soon as possible. Drafts of both the constitutional amendment and the legislation were cleared by the federal cabinet on Wednesday.
The urgency on part of the government emanates from the fact that a bench of the Supreme Court is set to hear the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case on July 12.
The court has already asked premier Ashraf to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking to reopen closed graft charges against President Zardari, failing which he might face the contempt case.
The same charges resulted into the ouster of Prime Minister Ashraf"s predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani last month.
The new draft bill would save the premier from contempt charges even if he refuses to write to Swiss agencies.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has already announced it would not vote for both the constitutional amendment and the bill, even though some of its members also fall in the category of dual nationals.
But a final decision is likely at a meeting of the PML-N"s parliamentary party today, just hours before the start of the National Assembly session.
The Awami National Party (ANP), one of the PPP"s allies, has refused to support the constitutional amendment to lift a ban on dual nationals from taking part in elections.
This can create obstacles for the government in mustering support of the mandatory two-thirds majority in both the houses.
But insiders said the Pukhtun nationalist party wants some concession from President Zardari in Karachi where it is an arch rival of another government ally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and may concede the last minute.