Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Nusrat Wahid on Tuesday sought to present a bill in the National Assembly, which not only put Speaker Asad Qaiser and Parliamentary Affairs State Minister Ali Muhammad Khan in an awkward position but also the entire treasury benches.
Through the proposed bill, Wahid sought an amendment in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Act to increase the fee for contesting election for an NA seat from Rs30,000 to Rs100,000 and for a provincial assembly seat from Rs20,000 to Rs50,000.
“Inflation has increased and I think the fee should also be increased,” Wahid told the house.
With a grin on his face, Speaker Asad Qaiser asked the minister of state for parliamentary affairs for his opinion on the bill.
Khan said that election was already a difficult process and increasing the fee for contesting election would be tantamount to closing the doors of assemblies to the poor.
“I feel we should decrease the fee further,” he said. “If we can’t do anything else, we shouldn’t close the door to the poor.”
Qaiser asked Wahid if she wanted to withdraw the bill. However, she surprised the speaker by asking him to send the bill to the relevant standing committee as, according to her, “no poor contests the election as roughly Rs30 million is needed” for the purpose.
Baffled by her logic, Qaiser reluctantly moved ahead, saying he has no choice but to put the bill before the house for vote. “Do you oppose it,” Qaiser asked Khan. “Unfortunately, I will have to oppose it on behalf of the government,” Khan replied.
The state minister also said that he disagreed with the thinking that roughly Rs30 million was required to contest the election, adding that he himself had contested twice and spent roughly Rs1.5 million and Rs2 million, respectively. The motion was subsequently rejected through a majority vote.
Earlier, speaking on the floor of the house, PTI lawmaker Riaz Fatyana had advised the government to order scientific research over a “common belief that consuming locust provides the best defence against the novel coronavirus”.
“If the research substantiates the belief, the nation will itself deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the locust infestation at the same time,” he told the house, as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle looked on in utter disbelief.
The PTI lawmakers continue to be in the headlines – for their faux pas or bizarre statements. Prior to Fatyana, Climate Change Minister Zartaj Gul gave a hilariously weird explanation of Covid-19’s anatomy, sparking a storm of memes on the social media.