ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms presented the draft of the 18th Amendment to Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza on Thursday.Fehmida Mirza expressed the hope that both houses of the parliament would now pass the bill.She termed March 31 as a historic day and said the political parties’ consensus on the amendment proved that the parliament was a strong institution that could solve the nation’s problems.

Fehmida Mirza announced that the room in the parliament house where the committee had conducted over 77 meetings in the past nine months for the revival of the 1973 constitution in its original form should now be called the constitution room.

Senator Raza Rabbani speaking on the occasion said he appreciated the will and commitment of the committee’s members and said they proved that the parliamentarians had the capability to pull our nation out of crisis. — DawnNews

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ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms achieved on Wednesday a historic consensus on the draft 18th Amendment by overcoming all contentious issues ranging from the renaming of NWFP to the appointment of superior courts judges.

Members of the committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, signed the draft document at a ceremony held at committee room No 2 of the Parliament House.

Sources said that after the ceremony the committee met again to decide a date for presentation of the bill in the National Assembly and Senate.

S.M. Zafar, a PML-Q member of the committee, told reporters that the body would meet again on Thursday to fine-tune the document before taking it to parliament.

After hectic meetings between leaders of the PML-N and ANP and members of the committee throughout the day, the two parties agreed to a new name for the NWFP — ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ — choosing a middle path to end the controversy.

The PML-Q, the third stakeholder in the renaming issue, however, rejected the new name and submitted a dissenting note. It made two suggestions: ‘Sooba-i-Sarhad’ as the new name for the province or holding of a referendum.

After getting a fresh advice from the party leadership, PML-N members of the body agreed to the constitution of a seven-member judicial committee, to be headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and to the nomination of a retired Supreme Court judge as its seventh member. He will be appointed by the CJ.

The all-party parliamentary committee has revisited all 278 articles of the Constitution and proposed amendments to about 100 of them.

For the first time in the country’s judicial history a consensus has emerged on reshaping the precincts of provincial autonomy by abolishing all items from the Concurrent List and handing them over to the provinces.

Efforts of the Pakistan People’s Party to finalise a constitutional reforms package suffered a major setback on March 25 after it failed to reach an understanding with the Pakistan Muslim League-N on the procedure for appointing judges and on renaming the NWFP before a joint session of the two houses.

The 27-member parliamentary committee was constituted on June 23 last year to revisit the 1973 Constitution in order to repeal the 17th Amendment and strike a balance of powers between the president and the prime minister, including removal from the Constitution of the controversial clause 58(2)b.

President Asif Ali Zardari, who had advised Speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza to constitute the committee in an address to a joint sitting of parliament in March last year, is expected to address the joint session soon after April 4 _ the death anniversary of PPP’s founding chairman Z.A. Bhutto.

The signing of the amendment bill by the committee was earlier scheduled for March 24, but it had to be put off after the PML-N backtracked from its stance on the issue of judges’ appointment and renaming of the NWFP, stalling the much-awaited reforms package for an indefinite period.

The signing ceremony was telecast live by all television channels. Except for JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman and ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan, leaders of all major parties attended it. Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was the first person to sign the document.

Raza Rabbani, the committee’s chairman, was the last signatory to the constitutional amendment. He congratulated the nation on achieving a consensus on all matters.

The Rabbani committee held some 79 meetings and resolved all issues without succumbing to external pressures. Mr Rabbani praised committee members for sticking to their objective and by rising above party affiliations.

“This is the day of members who despite differences of opinion kept their integrity and proved that as people’s representatives they are capable of achieving anything for the sake of the nation,” Mr Rabbani said.

He also thanked leaders of all parties for giving precious advice from time to time to complete otherwise a very complex work. He also praised the role of the media.

Those who signed the consensus amendment document included, among others, PPP’s Raja Pervez Ashraf, Babar Awan, Haji Lashkari Raeesani and Mian Raza Rabbani, PML-N’s Ishaq Dar, Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan and Hassan Iqbal, PML-Q’s Wasim Sajjad, S.M. Zafar and Humayun Saifullah Khan, Muttahida’s Dr Farooq Sattar and Haider Abbas Rizvi (MQM), Afrasayab Khattak and Haji Muhammad Adeel (ANP), Rehmatullah Kakar (JUI-F), Justice (retd) Abdur Razzaq Thaheem (PML-F), Srarullah Zehri (BNP-A), Prof Khurshid Ahmad (Jamaat-i-Islami), Mir Hasil Bizenjo (NP), Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao (PPP-S), Abdul Rahim Mandokhel (PMAP), Shahid Hasan Bugti (JWP) and Munir Khan Orazkzai (Fata). Karamat Hussain Niazi, secretary of the National Assembly, and Raja Muhammad Amin, secretary of the Senate, also signed the document as parliamentary officials.

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