ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government on Monday got passed the controversial Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill-2013 from the National Assembly amidst rumpus as all opposition parties and the government ally JUI-F fiercely opposed what they called a ‘draconian law’.
The protesting members kept throwing torn copies of bill towards Speaker’s rostrum; some even gathered around Speaker’s dais and engaged in sloganeering against the proposed law, terming it a black law which, to them, deeply infringes on the basic rights of the citizens. They kept chanting and shouting “we won’t accept this fascist and draconian law”, but the treasury continued with the legislation and got it passed with a majority vote.
Opposition lawmaker Junaid Khan also attempted to disrupt the proceedings by pointing out quorum but the house was found in order. The house also saw hat-trick of walkouts by opposition parties who once staged a token walkout on Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance-2013 and twice on Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill-2013. Speaker Iyaz Sadiq, during the legislation on PPO, perhaps for the first time, faced allegations of partiality.
Defending the bill, PML-N lawmaker Abdul Qadir Baloch said, “It is very necessary as conspiracies are being hatched to disintegrate the country.” PML-N legislators said that initially the new law would be imposed for three years. Zahid Hamid sought to give verbal assurance that fundamental rights would not be violated by this law.
Taking the floor, Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah strongly rejected the bill and suggested the government to sort out the ‘dark’ clauses with the opposition parties. “We in good faith had dropped the bill and incorporated the amendments of opposition parties in our era, and we expect the same from this government.“ Shah said the government has freed Taliban prisoners. “Why they were caught if they were to be released?“
PTI Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shah Mahmood Querashi also put weight behind the suggestion of the opposition leader. “Government should review its policy as there is no need to rush the bill,“ he said. MQM lawmaker Dr Farooq Sattar said this bill is against the fundamental rights of the citizens. “This bill seems to be continuation of colonial era laws“, he said. The bill was also strongly opposed by other opposition parties including Jamaat-i-Islami and Qaumi Wattan Party. Even government’s own partner, JUI-F, lawmakers opposed it.
Clarifying the criticism on passing two same kind of bills, PML-N Minister Zahid Hamid said the government brought the two bills regarding protection of Pakistan but “now the other one is redundant as all amendments of opposition lawmakers have been incorporated in one bill“.
Earlier, the government also faced strong criticism from opposition benches over “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance-2013”, which enabled the law-enforcing agencies to continue with strict action against the power thieves and those who commit electricity-related offences. The opposition parties were unanimous that ordinance culture should be discouraged as it violates the spirit of Article 89 of the constitution.
“Ordinances are imposed in emergency situation...Government should introduce it in shape of bill then we will decide to support or oppose it,” said Khursheed Shah. Aftab Sherpao said if the government continued with the extension of ordinances, it will undermine the role of the parliament. Dr Farooq Sattar said the government’s step was in disregard to the democratic norms and parliamentary traditions. The opposition members after registering their protest walked out from the proceeding.
Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali strongly reacted and labelled the opposition members as supporters of power thieves, and he called PTI a party of General (r) Pasha.Supporting his colleague, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif also lashed out at the opposition and said HESCO (Hyderabad) and SEPCO (Sukkar) have Rs56 billion outstanding to the government. “KESC has to pay Rs42 billion to Sui Southern Gas Company,” he said, adding the previous PPP prime minister was also involved in RPP scam. The government also passed a bill to amend the Service Tribunals Act, 1973 (The Service Tribunals (Amendment) bill, 2013).