04 June 1999 Friday 19 Safar 1420

Senate passes bill: Quota system extended for forty years 

By Our Correspondent 

ISLAMABAD, June 3: In what was perhaps the rarest precedent in the recent history of Pakistan, the Senate on Wednesday night passed by over two-thirds majority - 63 votes for and one against - the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Bill providing for quota for all regions and areas for 40 years.

The bill was opposed by only one Muttahida Senator Aftab Sheikh at all the stages of the consideration and passing the historical bill. Both Senators Aftab Sheikh and Jamiluddin Aali staged walkout from the House to register their protest on what they called the killing of the principle of merit. But they returned to the Senate shortly.

The amendment in the Constitution (16th amendment) held that "Provided that for a period not exceeding forty years from the commencing day, provisions may be made reserving posts for any class or persons and various provinces, regions or areas to secure their adequate representation in the service of Pakistan."

The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill stated that Article 27 of the Constitution provides safeguards against discrimination in services.

It said that in order to provide opportunity and representation to all classes of persons and areas in services, clause (1) of the said Article provides that for a period not exceeding twenty years from the commencing day of the Constitution, certain posts may be reserved for persons belonging to any class or area.

The statement said that it had been felt that since equal opportunity of education and other facilities were not yet available to all citizens of Pakistan, the period of twenty years specified in clause(1) of Article 27 be extended to forty years.

The constitutional bill as the Constitution (Thirteenth Amendment) Bill was moved by the Law Minister Khalid Anwar in the House.

It was opposed by Muttahida Senator Aftab Sheikh. In his dissenting speech, he said that the bill being talked about was not presented by the PML-N. It was a bill as Constitution (13th Amendment) Bill moved in 1994 by the then PPP Government Bill, Aftab Sheikh said. The Senator said that through this bill, the government was killing merit and violating principle of equality of opportunity.

Later Sen Jamiluddin Aali said that the bill was against the principle of national integrity and it amounted to fanning parochialism in the country. He said that the services should run on the principle of merit. He said that in India quota system had been introduced for the benefit of the untouchables.

Sen Iqbal Haider of PPP fully supported the bill but said that in the past the quota bill was abused for discrimination. He said that Karachi with a population of 10 per cent was given only two per cent representation in the federation. He pleaded that Karachi and all regions should receive their due representation. Sen Raza Rabbani fully supported the bill and claimed that it was moved by the PPP during its reign of government but then it did not have two-thirds majority in the Senate. He called for extending quota system to even the armed forces. He said that despite the vendetta of the ruling party, the PPP had supported the Constitutional Bill.

Sen Aftab Sheikh moved amendment in clause 2 of the Bill but it was rejected by the house. Finally the bill was passed by the House by 63 senators voting for it against one senator opposing it. All the amendments moved by the minister were accommodated by the house.

APP adds:

TEXT OF BILL: The following is the text of sixteenth Constitutional Amendment Bill passed by Senate on Thursday.

"A Bill further to amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Whereas it is expedient further to amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the purpose hereinafter appearing;

It is hereby enacted as follows:

1. Short title and Commencement. (1) This Act may be called the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1999.

(2) It shall come into force at once.

"2. Amendment of article 27 of the Constitution. - In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in Article 27, in clause (1), in the first proviso for the word "twenty" the world "forty" shall be substituted and shall be deemed always to have been so substituted."

© The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 1999