ISLAMABAD - The Senate yesterday repealed the PIA Ordinance with the majority of the vote through a constitutional resolution blocking the government’s last minute move to delay it as the opposition said the ordinance was aimed at privatisation of state owned airline.
The constitutional resolution moved by 52 senators from opposition benches, Fata and a treasury benches lawmaker of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) disapproved the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Ordinance 2015. The treasury benches opposed the resolution.
The government had promulgated the ordinance in the first week of December that converted PIA into corporation which, according to the opposition, was aimed at privatisation of the airline.
It is likely that the government will move a fresh bill in the National Assembly to undo the resolution.
Former Senate chairman and legal expert Farook H Naek, soon after the passage of the resolution, said that the ordinance stood repealed under Article 89 of the Constitution and the matter could not be discussed in the house.
The government showed its anger over this step from the opposition benches, ‘condemned’ it and said that it had other legal options to undo this move. Later, PPP lawmaker Saeed Ghani objected to the word condemnation.
The government at first tried to block the resolution on the pretext that this agenda should be deferred as the state minister for parliamentary affairs Sheikh Aftab could not respond to it due to demise of some relative.
However, the chair did not accept this argument and said that it was the collective responsibility of the cabinet to respond to the parliament and some other minister could be asked to respond over the matter. He said that a prior three-day notification had been given as required under the constitution. “It is not an ordinary resolution, it is a constitutional resolution moved under Article 89 of the Constitution,” he reminded.
Soon after the resolution was adopted, the government blamed the chair and said it was moved in haste while the chair rejected the allegation. Leader of the House said that resolution had serious implications and the notion was wrong that PIA employees’ rights would be usurped through this law or they would be laid off. This ordinance itself provides protection to the rights of employees, he said.
PML-N lawmaker Mushahidullah Khan came down hard on the opposition and said that the lawmakers had disgraced the special committee of the Senate on PIA as it had become ineffective after this resolution. He said that government had legal option to undo this resolution. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also showed his anger, saying, “I condemn this move and this is not the end of the game, we have ways out.”
The house also constituted a bipartisan oversight committee including all parliamentary parties and Fata representation to oversee the implementations of the Committee of the Whole House for providing speedy and inexpensive justice after a report of the committee was presented in the house.
Earlier, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif briefing the house about Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif’s recent visit to Afghanistan said that a quadrilateral meeting including China, Pakistan, US and Afghanistan was being held on January 16 to decide the agenda and framework of upcoming reconciliation talks with Afghan Taliban.
Giving a policy statement, he said, “The process of talks has started again and COAS came with the basic point agenda that reconciliation process should be Afghan-led and Afghan owned and all three other countries would facilitate and coordinate these talks”.
“Pakistan’s role is to (help) bring groups of Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA) on the table,” he said, adding that in the first quadrilateral meeting, the responsibility and framework of talks would be decided. It has been decided that it would be a shared responsibility of all four countries and all would be responsible for the outcome.
The minister said that Pakistan would pressure Afghan groups for reconciliation while using all available instruments. “All this was also discussed during COAS visit,” he said.
“Talks will be held with those who want to reconcile and all four countries would mutually decide framework for those minority groups who did not want to reconcile and would be brought into the fold of Afghanistan,” the minister said.
It was also decided during COAS visit that there would be more intelligence sharing between ISI and Afghan intelligence agency NDS, besides setting up of hotline between DG military operations of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Both the countries would cooperate to decrease incidents of cross border terrorism through proper border management. Both the countries would not allow using land against each other. The idea behind the talks is that these were necessary to counter increasing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan, he said.
However, Leader of the Opposition rejecting the briefing said that there was nothing new in the briefing as the minister failed to properly highlight different angles of COAS visit.