Democracy is by discussion. Both the government and the opposition have decided to follow this important dictum. They have reached an agreement to pursue legislation on important matters with consensus. After the agreement, the opposition has announced that it is withdrawing its no-confidence motion against the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Qasim Khan Suri. The opposition had submitted the motion last week, alleging that the deputy speaker did not listen to their protest as the government passed 11 ordinances without holding a debate. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati has said the bills that were passed on Nov 7 would be presented in parliament again for debate and the proper procedure for legislation would be followed.
Of course, the Constitution allows laws to be promulgated through ordinances. However, in terms of Article 89 of the Constitution, this can only be done when the National Assembly is not in session and the president is satisfied that circumstances exist that render it necessary to take immediate action. Hence the need for ordinance. Why did the PTI-led government resorted to promulgation of laws through ordinances? According to reports, between August 2018 and August 219 laws promulgated through ordinances equal the number of legislations done by the proper process of debates in the National Assembly and the Senate. Probably it was because the PTI does not command a majority in the Senate. So constrained by its minority position in the Upper House, the government resorted to ordinances. This constraint cannot be interpreted as sign of an authoritarian tendency on the part of the government. However, in any case governance by ordinance under a democratic dispensation is indefensible.
The opposition needs to be congratulated for its efforts towards running the affairs of the state in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. In democracy, there are certain checks and balances to keep various organs of the state functioning in accordance with the law. The people elect their representatives to enact laws that make life comfortable for all. Governance should not be all sail and no anchor.
A shortlived ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine fell apart within 24 hours on Friday. The Israeli defence forces claim that they fired at positions in Gaza after the militant group allegedly fired five rockets into Israel. In the violence leading up to the ceasefire, at least 34 Palestinians were killed, while no Israeli fatalities were reported. The violence began on Tuesday after Israel killed an Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza. Militants have since allegedly fired more than 450 missiles into Israel, while a spate of Israeli airstrikes pounded Gaza. Apart from the 34 dead, at least 111 people have been wounded by Israeli attacks.
Interestingly, the ceasefire hinged on Islamic Jihad halting rocket attacks while Israel would stop targeted assassinations against various militants and the use of live fire against weekly Gaza protests along the border. The Israelis also had to ease the 12-year-old blockade of Gaza that has devastated the local economy. The terms ‘enforceable’ on Israel seem no different from those pushed on a terrorist group — stop murdering civilians and destroying their livelihoods. Yet that was too much for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ‘curiously’ ordered the airstrikes while his political rival Benny Gantz is attempting to form a new government after elections resulted in a hung parliament.
The attack scuttled Gantz’s potential support from Israeli Palestinian parties, forcing him to consider a power-sharing deal with Netanyahu. Netanyahu, who is also facing serious financial corruption charges, had already been braying about this possibility by equating a minority government with Arab support with being a danger to the state. Netanyahu appears to have forgotten that despite its Jewish identity and decades of operating as an apartheid state, Israel constitutionally remains a secular democracy, and those Arabs are equal citizens of Israel. But playing oppressed groups as the cause of all ills has long been the go-to strategy for fascists. It is unsurprising that Netanyahu is willing to kill a few more Palestinians just to maintain power.
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