20th Amendment bill unanimously passed in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: The 20th Amendment bill has been unanimously passed in the National Assembly (NA), Express News reported on Tuesday. 

Earlier Law Minister Maula Bakhsh Chandio had presented the bill in the NA, after the Federal cabinet had approved the bill’s draft during a meeting in Islamabad.

Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar, during the NA session, had stated that the government has presented the bill without informing the opposition beforehand.

The opposition leader said that in the last meeting, he was told that the government will hold further talks regarding the bill.

Cabinet expresses “full confidence” in Gilani

The cabinet had earlier expressed “full confidence” in Gilani as he prepares to go on trial for contempt of court, which could cost him his job.

“The cabinet unanimously applauded the conduct of the prime minister in the Supreme Court and reposed full confidence in his leadership,” his office said in a statement.

Gilani thanked the cabinet and said he was premier “due to the support of members of parliament, his cabinet colleagues and of the coalition partners”.

The prime minister was on Monday charged with contempt by the Supreme Court for refusing to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

He pleaded not guilty and the court adjourned until February 22, the first step paving the way to a trial that could see him jailed for six months and disqualified from office.

President Zardari and his late wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, were suspected of using Swiss accounts to launder about $12 million in alleged bribes paid by companies seeking customs inspection contracts in the 1990s.

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to ask the Swiss to re-open the cases, which were shelved in 2008, when Zardari became head of state.

The prime minister has refused, saying Zardari is immune from prosecution as president and that the cases are politically motivated.

Recording Ijaz’s statement through video link unlawful: AG

When inquired regarding the record of Mansoor Ijaz’s statement through video conferencing, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq informed the cabinet that there was no provision in the law which would allow the video conferencing to take place.

Prime Minister Gilani asked the attorney general why the parliament was ignored in the matter when it is a supreme body, and also asked Haq to brief him about the situation in person.

The issue was raised in the cabinet despite its absence on the agenda of the meeting.

Earlier this month, the judicial commission probing the Memogate scandal agreed to Ijaz’s request of recording his statement in another country. The commission directed the secretary of the commission Raja Jawad Abbas to travel to London and receive documents, evidence and gadgets from Ijaz, while lawyers in Islamabad cross-examine the video conference.

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