Senate passes jobs quota bill

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Thursday passed the 16th Constitutional Amendment Bill, seeking extension in jobs quota for 40 years, by 63-1 votes. All the opposition parties, except the MQM, joined hands with the treasury benches for the passage of the amendment.

The bill was moved by Law Minister Khalid Anwar which was only opposed by MQM parliamentary leader Aftab Sheikh and Jamiluddin Aali. Opposing the bill, Sheikh Aftab said quota system should not be extended because it denies deserving people jobs on merit.

He wanted to move an amendments in the bill but could not do so as other opposition senators opposed his move. Later Sheikh Aftab also staged a token walk-out. Senator Jamiluudin Aali also opposed the bill, saying that it is a "black bill" which will deprive the people to get jobs on merit. Syed Iqbal Haider said that there was no problem with the quota system but abuse of the system should not be ignored. He suggested it should be ensured that determination of quotas is according to regional population ratio so that no one feels deprived of due representation.

The statement of object and reasons of the bill read as Article 27 of the Constitution provides safeguards against discrimination in services. 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 20 years from the commencing day of the Constitution, certain posts may be reserved for persons belonging to any class or area. It has been felt that since equal opportunity of education and other facilities are not yet available to all citizens of Pakistan, the period of 20 years specified in clause (1) of Article 27 to be extended to 40 years.

Speaking after passage of the bill, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq appreciated the role of opposition for their cooperation regarding the passage of the bill. He said this role of the opposition should be extended to other matters relating to people's welfare. Opposition Leader in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said that the opposition always cooperated with the government for the benefit of the people and the country. He said the government should also review its policies against the opposition and take steps to stop intimidation of the opposition leaders.

Senator Raza Rabbani said despite the fact that the government was using all methods to press the opposition, the combined opposition unanimously supported the bill which shows the positive attitude of the opposition.

Following is the text of the 16th Constitutional Amendment Bill:

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.

June 04, 1999
The News International Pakistan