ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Thursday saw sharp criticism on Protection of Pakistan (amendment) Ordinance by opposition parties, which called it a violation of the fundamental rights of the people.
The legislators from opposition benches although supported the government's move to give peace another chance, yet asked the government to also determine 'red lines' in this regard.
The opposition lawmakers raised their serious concerns over amended Ordinance while participating in debate on law and order situation in the country, which was later concluded by Minister for State for Interior Baleegh-ur-Rehman.
The amended ordinance presented by Barjees Tahir had already been criticised strongly by opposition lawmakers with the pledge to oppose it at every stage.
The statement of objects and reasons says that the PPO 2013 was promulgated to prevent acts threatening the security of Pakistan and for speedy trail of certain offences. However, in order to curb the threats of terrorism and to protect the law-abiding citizens, it becomes necessary to immediately further strengthen the mechanism provided in that ordinance.
According to the amendment section-2, "Combatant enemy means any person who raises arms against Pakistan, its citizens, the armed forces or civil armed forces or aid or abets the raising of arms of waging of war against Pakistan or threatens the security and integrity of Pakistan or commits or threatens to commit any schedule offence".
The Prevention detention says "The government may, by an order in writing, authorise the detention of a person for a period specified in the order that shall not exceed 90 days, if in the opinion of the government such person is acting in a manner prejudicial to integrity."
Later, concluding the debate on law and order situation in the country
Minister of State for Interior Baleegh-ur-Rehman informed that the government after consultation with the political parties decided to hold dialogue with Taliban. At the same time, he said, forces are vigilant about its mission. He said the government has formed a neutral committee to initiate peace talks with Taliban.
The minister also informed that draft National Internal Security Policy (NICP) has been prepared. "This draft would be placed before the National Security Committee and announced after getting approval from the federal cabinet," he added.
The minister did not share the details and only confined on saying that it would consist on three parts. "The first part would be secret and second is on is strategic with an objective to carry forward government's decisions," he shared.
About PPO, he made it clear this purpose of this ordinance to strictly deal with those who are giving bad name for country. He appreciated performance of the PML-N government saying that all possible measures were being taken to improve law and order situation the country.
About Balochistan, the minister said that crime ratio decreased in last six months due to government's measures. He said that the PM had also formed a committee to address the issue of missing persons. He further said that incumbent government was cooperating with the Supreme Court on the case of missing persons. The minister also informed that the government has also removed unnecessary security from VVIPs.
The minister said blue passports issued to unauthorised persons have been cancelled. Around 4.3 million illegal SIMs have been blocked by the government. He said that the government was also fully cooperating with the provinces regarding provision of security to polio workers.
Taking part in debate on law and order situation in the country, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) senior lawmaker Tariq Ullah strongly opposed the PPO ordinance, saying that all opposition members would strictly oppose it.
Praying for successful peace talks, the JI legislator lauded the government for sharing names of committee's members for talks. He also stressed for increasing peace efforts in Afghanistan.
PPP legislator Dr Nafeesa Shah raising some concerns on the mandate of a committee for peace talks said that the government formed this committee in haste.
"It seems, the committee was formed in haste," she said, adding that the approach of the committee members from their statement was bit different. She further said albeit dialogue is a painful process but they fully endorse it. However, she also opined multiple strategies to deal with the issue rather than only relying on dialogue.
MQM legislator Abdul Rashid Godil, on his turn, strongly opposing the PPO ordinance called it a violation of the fundamental rights of the people. About discovery of a mass grave in Balochistan area, he said that inquiry should have been done on this matter but still the matter is clueless.
Three mass graves were reportedly discovered in the Khuzdar district of Pakistan's western Balochistan province. The corpses were too decomposed to be identified. He also opposed the idea of giving peace another chance by PML-N government. "Although we pray for meaningful dialogue, yet we put weight behind action," Godil said.
Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief Aftab Sherpao, on his turn, also strongly opposed the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO). "This culture of ordinance should be put to an end now, as it is tantamount to not trusting on assembly," he added.
About the government's move to give peace another chance, he said the government should also share red lines on this matter. He further said that there was need to focus on 'security' and civil government should be on 'driving seat'.
Another JI legislator Sher Akbar, on his turn, also strongly opposed PPO, terming it violation of fundamental rights. He also supported the option of negotiation with Taliban.
Shah G Gul Afridi from FATA, on his turn, asked the government to take FATA members into confidence about matters related to law and order situation in the country.
Taking part in debate, a lawmaker from Balochistan Essa Noori in an emotional way shared about discovery of a mass grave in Balochistan area. He raised questions on government performance and asked the parameter to determine progress in the province. About constituting a committee for peace talks with Taliban, he demanded a committee to address Balochistan issue.
Earlier, responding to a call attention notice, Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael said that the government has got vacated 70 acres of land of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) from the illegal occupants. The minister informed that 780 acres of land in different areas of Karachi were under illegal occupation.
Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Muhammad Birjees Tahir told the House during question hour that the government is bringing Criminal Law Amendment Bill‚ 2013 to ensure protection of children from various aspects including heinous crime of rape.
To another question, the minister of law and justice, in a written reply, informed that NAB has mandated to probe, inquire, investigate and prosecute the persons involved in white-collar crimes. "During the last five years 66 accused persons have entered into plea bargain which include 65 government servants and one politician.