National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Wednesday once again put off the joint sitting of parliament, scheduled to be held today (Thursday), for another month without giving any reason as the two houses of parliament, according to an official announcement, will now meet on December 20.
The notification in this regard said the speaker had delayed the joint sitting exercising his “powers conferred by proviso to Rule 4 of the Parliament (Joint Sittings) Rules 1973”.
This is for the fifth time that the speaker had delayed the joint sitting, which had been convened by President Dr Arif Alvi on May 26, without assigning any reason.
The last joint sitting of the parliament was held on October 11 in which the government had carried out a routine legislative work and passed three bills — Dyslexia Special Measures Bill 2022, Trade Organisations (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill 2022. After accomplishing the task, instead of proroguing the joint sitting, the speaker had announced adjournment till Nov 18.
On Oct 6, the government, however, convened a special joint session for the mandatory presidential address and Dr Alvi had delivered his speech amid boycott by the treasury and the opposition members.
President Alvi had in the past remained a target of severe criticism by the previous opposition parties, now sitting in the government, for allegedly undermining the parliament by issuing a record number of ordinances under the PTI government.
The present National Assembly, which has come into existence as a result of the July 25, 2018 general elections and which saw a change of regime through a successful no confidence resolution against the then prime minister Imran Khan in April, has already entered its last parliamentary year after completing its four-year term.
While President Alvi, who belongs to PTI, had refused to administer the oath to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif after his election as prime minister in April, he later took the oath from the cabinet members appointed by Mr Sharif.
Parliamentary experts believe the government is dragging the joint sitting, fearing that President Alvi may not convene a fresh session under PTI’s influence if the PML-N-led coalition government decides to do some crucial legislation before the next general elections, due in October 2023.