ISLAMABAD - Main opposition parties in the National Assembly (NA) on Monday reiterated their demand to set a proper timeframe for peace talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The House also saw almost the same stance of two major politically rival parties including JUI-F and PTI for distancing from the upcoming peace talks though they welcomed the progress in this regard.
The House also spent most of its time in legislation, in which, the opposition parties after hectic discussion forced the PML-N government to defer three bills despite its majority. The bills included the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2014, The Protection of Pakistan Bill, 2013 and Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2013.
Taking the floor on a point of order, leader of the opposition Syed Khursheed Shah reiterated its demand to set a proper timeframe for the peace talks. “PPP has expressed confidence over the committee formed by the government to hold talks with the TTP,” he said adding that the announcement of the committee from TTP for negotiations also augurs well.
About including PTI chief Imran Khan in the peace talks committee, Shah considered it a good sign, saying that Khan will also represent parliament of the country. About TTP’s statement for giving safe passage to TTP, he slightly criticized that it was the government to manage this process.
PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on a point of order, quite emphatically cleared that Imran Khan would not be part of this committee. “Imran Khan has its own party and this was a suggestion from the other side,” he said, and rushed to remark that they were in favour of peace in the country.
About a timeframe for talks, he endorsed Khursheed Shah’s point to set a proper timeframe for the peace process.
Whereas, a senior member from treasury benches Sheikh Rohail Asghar raised his concern that what had made Imran reject the proposal to be part of the committee.
Taking the floor, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman raised serious reservations with the PML-N government for not taking his party into confidence for peace talks.
“I pray for the success of peace talks. But I announce to dissociate our party from the upcoming peace talks,” he said, assuring his support whenever the government requires in future. Fazl also strongly supported the opposition benches by going against the ‘Protection of Pakistan Bill, 2013’.
He strongly rejected the PPO terming it a violation of fundamental rights. “It could create anarchy in the country,” he said, requesting the government to consult other parties before its legislation.
Maulana was strongly supported by opposition parties including PPP, MQM, PTI and Jamaat-e-Islami, as they after hectic discussion made the PML-N government to defer all the bills on the agenda.
Despite the PML-N senior legislator Zahid Hamid’s assurances, Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed it a ‘black law’ and totally against the fundamental rights.
“PTI has given a dissenting note on it, so it needs to be revisited with opposition parties,” he added.
Having the same stance, MQM lawmaker Abdul Rashid Godil and JI lawmaker Tariq Ullah said that it should not be bulldozed and be refered to the committee for further discussion.
On it, the State Minister for Interior said that the members of opposition parties are mixing all the three bills, as this bill (Anti-terrorism (amendment) bill, 2014) has no link with the terrorism issue.
Earlier, Zahid Hamid, who took the floor thrice, despite its assurance to opposition legislators, could not convince them of difference between the bills. He even announced to defer the two bills including the Protection of Pakistan Bill, 2013 and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2013.
The House saw bit tense situation when opposition lawmakers challenged the PML-N government to check the record as no voting had taken place on the ordinance.
MQM lawmaker Nabil Gabol even challenged that he would tender resignation as no voting in the standing committee was made on it.
Sensing the situation, PkMAP senior lawmaker Mehmood Khan Achakzai asked the PML-N lawmakers that though it was not related to terrorism but the government ought to defer it.
Minister for Interior Ch. Nisar, at the fag end of the proceedings, finally deferred the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2014 for one day for more consultation on it.
Earlier, JUI-F lawmaker Naeema Kishwar, on a point of order, categorically said that she was member of the standing committee and this bill was passed after voting in the committee.