President neither assented nor gave written decision for returning army, secrets bills: secretary

Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
President Dr Arif Alvi signing the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023 into law, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad. — Twitter/@PTVNewsOfficial
President Dr Arif Alvi signing the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023 into law, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad. — Twitter/@PTVNewsOfficial 

  • Secretary claims he neither delayed bills nor committed negligence.
  • Says the decision for surrender of his services not based on justice.
  • Also urges president to order an inquiry by FIA or any other agency. 

Hours after his removal's request as secretary to the president, Waqar Ahmed on Monday issued a statement saying that President Dr Arif Alvi neither assented to the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023 nor gave a written decision for returning them to parliament for reconsideration.

Earlier today, the president sought the removal of his secretary, saying his services are "no more required" and are surrendered to the Establishment Division with immediate effect.

In a letter sent to the president, Ahmed stated that the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill was received on August 2 and sent to the president on August 3.

President Alvi, he added, had the 10-day time to advise on the bill till August 11.

"The Honourable President neither assented to the Bill nor gave a written decision for returning the Bill for reconsideration by the Parliament. The said file has not been returned to the Office of Secretary to date i.e. 21.08-2023," the letter stated.

Meanwhile, the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill was received on August 8 and was moved to the president's office on August 9.

"It was clearly stated in the Note that the Prime Minister's advice was received on 08-08-2023 and time of 10 days will be completed on 17.08.2023 (Thursday)," the letter also stated.

However, the letter added that the president neither assented to the bill nor gave a written decision for returning the bill for reconsideration by parliament.

The secretary further said that he "neither delayed above mentioned two bills nor committed any irregularity or negligence". He added that the files of the bills are still lying in the President's Office as of today (August 21).

He said that the president's decision for the surrender of his services is not based on justice.

"I request that the Honourable President may kindly order an inquiry by FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) or any other Agency to probe the facts and fix the responsibility for any lapse if committed by any officer or official," he said.

Ahmed further said that he would present himself in court if it is needed to prove his innocence.

"It is requested that U.O. dated 21-08-2023 regarding surrendering of my services to the Establishment Division may kindly be withdrawn," he added.

President sent both bills to PM House yesterday: AGP

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan told Geo News that the president sent both army and secrets bills yesterday (Sunday).

"Both bills were received by received by Prime Minister's House yesterday," said the AGP. 

Arif Alvi seeks removal of secretary after army, secrets bills signature saga

The President’s Secretariat earlier today said that the services of Waqar Ahmed — secretary to the president — are no more required and are surrendered to the Establishment Division with immediate effect.

“In view of the definite statement of yesterday, President’s Secretariat has written a letter to Principal Secretary to Prime Minister that the services of Mr. Waqar Ahmed, Secretary to President, are no more required and are surrendered to the Establishment Division, immediately,” read a statement posted on the President of Pakistan’s official account on X, previously known as Twitter.

What is Article 75(1)?

It should be noted that the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023, bill was sent to the president on August 1 for approval whereas it was received the following day on August 2.

Subsequently, the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was sent to the president on August 8 and received on the same day for approval.

According to Article 75(1) of the Constitution, the president shall give his assent to the approved bill of parliament within 10 days of its receipt.

“In the case of a Bill other than a Money Bill, return the Bill to the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) with a message requesting that the Bill or any specified provision thereof, be reconsidered and that any amendment specified in the message be considered,” read Article 75(1)(b) of the Constitution.

The president objected to the said bills after a constitutional period of 10 days.

Under Article 75, the bill must be approved by the joint session after being sent back by the president. After approval by the joint session, the bill is again sent to the president for approval.

"When the President has returned a Bill to the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), it shall be reconsidered by the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in joint sitting and, if it is again passed, with or without amendment, by the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), by the votes of the majority of the members of both Houses present and voting, it shall be deemed for the purposes of the Constitution to have been passed by both Houses and shall be presented to the President, and the President shall give his assent within ten days, failing which such assent shall be deemed to have been given," it states.

Furthermore, if the president does not approve the bill within 10 days it then turns into a law.