ISLAMABAD – JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN - The PPP and PML-N on Monday reconciled their differences over 'The Defence Housing Authority Islamabad, Bill 2013' and adopted it in the national assembly.
The controversial bill, strongly opposed by the PML-N earlier, was passed with certain changes proposed by a joint vetting committee.
Sharing the background of the bill, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan said they were amazed to see the original draft when it was first moved from government benches. “They wanted us to stamp on a ‘state-within a state’ sort of thing. This was entirely against the constitution and government wanted to push it through the assembly.”
Ch Nisar said that a committee was formed to deliberate on it but PML-N had to consult former defence secretary on this matter. “Later, our all the reservation except one were removed,” he maintained. He said it was better that this bill was passed with only the consultation of government and opposition rather than involving the GHQ in this matter.
Now the clause-3 of the bill says “subject to the financial viability of a scheme, the authority shall reserve in a scheme in the specified area at least fifty percent quota for the bereaved family of the martyrs, war injured, disabled and junior ranks of the defence forces”, Nisar said. He said earlier they could borrow without approval of the government and there was no right to appeal. “Now right to appeal is mentioned in the bill and without government approval they cannot borrow,” he added.
Nisar said it was also due to their efforts that defence secretary and chief commissioner were included in the governing body. According to the bill, the governing body which will have defence secretary as its chairman, Adjutant General Pakistan Army or Serving Lieutenant General of Pakistan as vice chairman, a serving or retired Major General to be nominated by Chief of army staff as member and chief commissioner as member.
According to the bill, the governing body which will have defence secretary as its chairman, Adjutant General Pakistan Army or Serving Lieutenant General of Pakistan as vice chairman, a serving or retired Major General to be nominated by Chief of army staff as member and chief commissioner as member.
Defence Minister Naveed Qamar said that the government and opposition passed this bill with consensus. “It is beauty of the parliament as opposition reservations were removed,” he added. The ANP legislator Bushra Gohar asked the chair not to pass the bill in haste, as their party had not been taken into confidence. "This is not the same bill. Will we involve armed forces in these matters?” she asked. Upon this, Naveed Qamar said ANP MNA Haider Ali Shah was part of the committee, which unanimously passed this bill.
The statement of objects and reasons of the proposed bill stated that the DHA needed to be established to address the needs of the beneficiaries of Pakistan Army who were facing 'immense hardship for settling down, particularly widows, families of Shaheeds, disabled and retired army personnel.'
Zafar Ali Shah, who recently changed loyalties from PPP to PML-N also strongly opposed the bill and wrote a dissenting note. The report of standing committee on DHA bill also contained a dissenting note from PML-N members Ayaz Amir and Begum Ishrat Ashraf who disapproved of establishment of the society.
MNA Amir, in his note, stated that the people should not be misled with the name of defence housing authority. "This is a private business undertaking which has nothing to do with the national security," he said. “It is a housing society of the armed forces and its aim, like any other housing society, is the purchase and acquisition of land for the benefit of its members,” said Ayaz Amir.
Earlier, the house also passed a bill 'The Global Change Impact Studies Centre bill, 2013' with dissenting note of Zafar Ali Shah on it. “Iam a free man, I left this party of looter and grabber,” he said while opposing the bill. Terming the ministry of climate change as 'Ministry for Rain and Darkness', he asked “what was the need to form so many bodies?” He also came down hard on MQM and PPP.
A bill to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act,1997 (The Anti-terrorism (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013) was also introduced in the house. The statement of objects and reasons said that the extra ordinary circumstances demand more stringent laws to curb the terrorist violence and to punish those found involved with a view to create adequate deterrence. Earlier, MQM legislators walked out from the house on the statement of Pir Mazharul Haq opposing the establishment of a university in Hyderabad.