ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly (NA) on Thursday unanimously adopted a motion to authorise the speaker to constitute a committee evaluating the shortcomings of previous elections and make recommendations for electoral reforms to ensure that elections are held in a free, fair and transparent manner.

The unanimously passed motion, moved by Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, says that the committee be made in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s letter dated June 10, 2014, which called upon the speaker to constitute a parliamentary committee.

The motion moved at the fag end of the proceeding says the speaker may replace any member of the committee on request of the leader of the parliamentary party concerned.

“House under rule 244(B) of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the National Assembly, 2007 authorized the Speaker National Assembly in consultation with the chairman Senate and leaders of the parliamentary parties in the house, to constitute the said committee comprising members from all the parliamentary parties in proportion to their representation in the Parliament.” 

The motion further says the scope of the work of the committee will include but shall not be limited to making recommendations in respect of electoral reforms, required to ensure free, fair and transparent elections, including adoption of the latest technology, available for holding elections, along with draft legislation including constitutional amendments, if required, for this purpose.

“Quorum to constitute a sitting parliamentary committee for electoral reforms shall be one fourth of the total membership. The committee may make rules for regulating its procedure,” says the motion, adding that the committee shall present its report to the Parliament within three months from the date of the notification of the committee.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had written a letter to NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq on (June 10) proposing setting up a parliamentary committee to finalise recommendations on the electoral reforms and submit its report within three months.

Earlier, the federal government rejected over 500 cut motions of opposition lawmakers in the budget regarding five ministries including information & broadcasting, interior and narcotics control, national food security and research, petroleum and natural resources and water and power.

Concluding the debate on cut motions related to interior ministry, Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif assured the house to end loadshedding in the next three to four year.

“We will reach this level to say in three to four years that we are near to control loadshedding in the country,” said Khwaja Asif, responding to reservation made by opposition lawmakers.

About shutdown of feeder of any area, the minister made it clear he was not in a position to avoid taking this step. “We are sorry to say that this can not be avoided, as it builds social pressure on those who are not paying bills,” he informed. He said the PML-N government is committed to build Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

The house also witnessed rumpus when some lawmakers of MQM and PML-N Minister of State Abid Sher Ali exchanged hot words.

The verbal brawl between MQM’s Sajid Ahmed and Abid Sher Ali turned into worse situation when Independent lawmaker Jamshed Dasti also criticised the incumbent government. Other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle timely intervened and defused the situation.

Taking advantage of the situation, MQM’s Sajid Ahmed strongly criticised PML-N’s government, saying Gulu Butt is a member of PML-N militant wing. Other opposition lawmakers Noman Islam Sheikh and Hasan Nawaz raised questions about the annoyance of ruling cliques over the criticism on Gulu Butt.

The daylong session consumed most of the time disposing of cut motions and demands for grants of three ministries. The house okayed all 145 demands for grants relating to different ministries, divisions and departments for the next financial year.

Earlier, Leader of opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said the PPP stands by the government to safeguard democracy.