ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the major opposition party in the Senate, Tuesday opposing the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014, said that the party will throw it out of the House unless certain amendments are not incorporated in it.
Senator Raza Rabbani, a senior lawmaker of PPP, earlier raising a point of order on the laying of Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014, in the Upper House of the Parliament and then taking part in the debate on political and law and order situation in the country, termed the proposed law a black spot. He also sought formation of a joint parliamentary committee to have a consensus on the bill. PPP lawmakers also raised slogans of ‘question...question’ when the ordinance was laid before the house by Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada.
At the same time, the legislator condemning the nomination of leaders of some political parties by banned TTP for its committee to hold peace dialogue with the government, said that this had made clear the political face of TTP and that was a major paradigm shift in the political history of Pakistan.
He said the nominations of politicians by TTP for the committee clearly showed that the militant organization had ingress in the Parliament as a political party as well. Perhaps, he was mainly pointing towards PTI chief Imran Khan and his party.
Criticizing the Protection of Pakistan (amendment) Ordinance, 2014 and the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO), 2014, he said that both the legislations were ultra vires of the Constitution and tantamount to usurping the basic rights of citizens.
“We feel that a strict law is the need of the hour keeping in view the volatile security situation of the country but this did not mean that the legislation should be given permission usurp the basic rights of citizens,” he said.
He further said that the amended ordinance had given the powers to a court to cancel any Pakistani’s citizenship so that Article 10 of the Constitution could not apply on that person. “So we will not allow the ordinance to go through,” he asserted.
He said that he had talked with the opposition parties in the house and they would bring their unanimous amendment in the proposed legislation. He asked the chair that a joint parliamentary committee should be formed to bring consensus on the legislation as National Assembly had not passed it, otherwise they would propose their own amendments in it,” he said.
He questioned what the necessity of this law when the government was going into a dialogue with the TTP.
Rabbani taking part in the debate said that the ruling PML-N had totally failed to fulfil its responsibilities including maintain of law and order situation in the country and ending of loadshedding despite tall claims made by it during the election campaign. He said that the relatives of Balochistan missing persons were still demanding its solution and now the government was trying to give it a cover through PPO.
He underscored that the government had outsourced the dialogue process by constituting a committee that did not comprise the government representatives. He said that the government had given a breathing space to militant groups to reorganize and regroup by delaying the decision either to hold dialogue or initiate action against them. “Even then we welcome the dialogue process but it should be within the ambit of the Constitution,” he said.
He said that the nominations of TTP for peace talks had cleared their political face and had also cleared the face of some of their sleeping cells at some other places.
He while getting hard at PTI chief Imran Khan said that those people talking of dialogue in the past had now withdrawn when they got a chance.
Rabbani pointed out that the dialogue process raised certain questions and first one was that what were the parameters that the government given to its committee to hold a dialogue. The second one is what is the fate of the other groups the government was interacting with when TTP had refused to negotiate, he said. What is he stance of the government on earlier preconditions of TTP for dialogue. What would be the fate of dialogue if the incidents of terrorism continued, he questioned.
He raised a point that though TTP was a banned organization yet the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s information minister had publicly said that they would accommodate TTP if it wanted to open a political office in the province. “Do not let down the state at that level where you cannot resurrect it again,” he said.
He also demanded of the government to make public the terms of reference (ToRs) of the dialogue process, give time frame for the dialogue as it could not be endless process and summon an in-camera session of the Parliament to brief it on the whole process. He proposed that all party parliamentary committee should be formed and the government should brief it on day-to-day basis about dialogue process.
Earlier, Raja Zafarul Haq, Leader of the House in the Senate, said that process of consultation on the proposed legislation of PPO (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 was going on in the National Assembly and this practice would continue in the House as well. However, Raza Rabbani said that they were not bound by the consultations carried out by the government.
Senator Babar Awan said that in the proposed legislation, citizenship of any Pakistani could be cancelled in seven different situations. He suspected that the law would be used against those would give it a shape of legislation like previous Ehtisab Act and Anti Terrorism Act (ATA). He sought ruling from the chair on the issue.
Earlier, the opposition benches including PPP and PML-Q walked out from the house as a protest against the government’s decision not to decrease the prices of petroleum products rejecting OGRA’s recommendation in this connection. “OGRA has recommended for a decrease in petroleum prices but for the first time the government refused,” said Kamal Ali Agha of PML-Q.
Criticising the performance of the ruling PML-N, Agha said that it had increased power tariff twice within a time period of seven months as the federal government had promised with the international institutions to withdraw subsidies.