Opp blocks govt move to refer PIA bill to joint session

Treasury benches fail to gather enough support

ISLAMABAD - The government yesterday failed to take further steps for privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) as opposition, with its stiff resistance, blocked it to refer the matter to joint sitting.
The treasury benches, facing stiff resistance from opposition in National Assembly’s proceedings, deferred the referral of PIA privatisation bill to joint sitting of the parliament for further two days.
The PML-N government, after facing defeat in Upper House of the parliament, has proposed in National Assembly through a motion to refer Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2016 to joint sitting for consideration.
Opposition just like its previous hard stance over the PIA privatisation has expressed its fear that government would bulldoze the bill by using numerical strength in the joint sitting, which is likely in coming week.
A proposal to send the matter to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) was also floated from opposition amid heavy desk-thumping.
Sensing logjam from both sides, speaker Ayaz Sadiq intervened and proposed the government to defer the bill for two days to carry out discussion on it. “Opposition’s arguments carry weight so no harm to defer it for two days,” said Sadiq.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab accepted the suggestion and the bill was not referred to the joint sitting of the parliament for further consideration.
The joint session is likely to be called in coming week to pass the bill with numerical strength and it is also expected to be signed into law by President Mamnoon Hussain on the same day.
The incumbent government with its existing strength in Senate (27 senators) has failed to get the bill passed by upper house of the parliament.
Strongly reacting to the bill, PPP’s stalwart Naveed Qamar said that the government should not set a bad precedent. “It is a black day as both houses are divided over it,” said Qamar proposing to develop consensus over the bill.
PTI’s Shireen Mazari said the government should avoid using numerical strength. “It is unfair by all means as this will not prove good for the country,” she added. PkMAP Mehmood Khan Achakzai also asked the chair to suspend the matter for carrying out discussion on it.
Jamaat-e-Islami senior lawmaker Sahibzada Tariq Ullah proposed to send the matter of PIA privatisation to Council of Common Interests (CCI). “No need to pass it through a joint sitting. I think it will be a joke to pass it with majority,” he said, amid heavy desk-thumping from opposition side.
Sheikh Rashid from AML said there was no need to invest for new airline as current organisation (PIA) should be established. “Government should not bulldoze it rather it should go for finding a middle way,” he added.
Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid attempted to defend the government side by saying that opposition had not shared any suggestion for the bill. “It is purely constitutional to refer the bill to joint sitting for further consideration,” he added.
The members from different parties encouraged Pakistani cricket team especially Shahid Afridi for World T20 tournament. Afridi’s recent remarks in Kolkata ‘for getting more love in India than in their home country’, also came under discussion.
MQM’s Iqbal Muhammad Ali, on a point of order, said that there was a need of accountability of PCB. He also criticised Shahid Afridi for his remarks.
Whereas, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that there was need to boost morale of cricket team so that they perform in a better way. Other members, raising objection over PCB, also passed remarks for heightening the confidence of cricket team.
MQM’s Sheikh Sulahudin, at the end of proceedings, drew attention of concerned authorities to return weapons of their workers, which were taken away during raid over 90. “Around a year before, raid was conducted at 90 (MQM’s main office in Karachi) but still weapons are not given back to us,” he added.
The house also passed a bill ‘The Publication of Law of Pakistan 2016’.

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