NA (NA adopts resolution urging EC to fix new date for LG polls)

Islamabad: The National Assembly Tuesday passed a unanimous resolution urging the Election Commission of Pakistan to fix a practical date for holding of Local Government Elections after putting in place all legal and administrative arrangements throughout the country.

The resolution moved by Dr. Arif Alvi said the House is fully conscious of the imperative to hold local government elections in accordance with the Constitution. It demands of the Election Commission to carry out its functions as stated in the constitution and hold elections in free‚ fair and transparent manner as soon as possible.

Earlier‚ speaking in the National Assembly‚ Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq said that the government believes that conducting Local Bodies elections in haste could prove detrimental to the democratic process.

He said that the elections if conducted as per the present schedule will become controversial as the Election Commission is facing issues of printing of ballot papers and magnetize ink. He‚ however‚ admitted that it was our collective responsibility to ensure timely conduct of Local Government Elections.

Answering the concerns of Leader of the Opposition regarding privatization of state-owned entities‚ Saad Rafiq categorically stated that Pakistan Railways will not be privatized as its deficit has shown declining trend in the first quarter. We have generated revenue above our set targets. He said no appointments have been made on political basis in state-owned institutions since the assumption of power by the PML-N government

Turning to the issue of electricity prices‚ the Railways Minister regretted that the previous government of PPP failed to address the electricity issue and left the burden of circular debt worth over five hundred billion rupees. Credit goes to the present government which retired the circular debt.

He assured that the incumbent government will complete Nandipur Power Project‚ Neelum Jhelum‚ Jamshoro Power Project‚ Dasu Dam‚ Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park‚ Coal-based Gaddani Power Project as well as Raising of Mangla Dam and extension of Tarbela in its tenure to overcome the electricity crisis and provide cheap electricity to the consumers.

On war against terrorism‚ the Railways Minister appreciated the sacrifices rendered by the personnel of Pakistan Army. He said that Pakistan Army is fighting the war for the survival of the country and their sacrifices cannot be compared with those who are attacking innocent people‚ schools and religious places.

On a point of order‚ Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah expressed serious concern over increase in the prices of essential commodities.

He said surge in the prices of flour‚ electricity and petroleum products have added to the woes of common man.

On the privatization issue‚ Khurshid Shah said we will not accept the privatization of major state institutions including Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills at throw away prices. He said National Savings and National Bank of Pakistan are profit earning entities and they should not be privatized.

The Leader of the Opposition said that Overseas Pakistanis are contributing greatly to the national economy by remitting 16 billion dollars annually. He said the government should bring amendment in the Constitution to give right to the Overseas Pakistanis to contest elections.

Syed Khurshid Shah appealed to the Supreme Court to postpone Local government elections until March next to ensure for smooth‚ free‚ fair and transparent polls.

The House passed a resolution urging the government to take steps to ensure that Pakistan Bureau Statistics functions as an autonomous body.

The resolution was moved by Shahida Rehmani.

Three bills were also tabled in the National Assembly.

Salman Khan Baloch laid before the House “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill‚ 2013” to amend Pakistan Penal Code‚ 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure‚ 1898.

The chair referred the bills to the concerned Standing Committees for further discussion.