ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday passed the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2014, amidst a rumpus created by all the opposition parties aided by one of the government allies, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), by staging a walkout.
“A black, draconian law. The most regressive law,” the opposition said of the bill.
Since the inception of the sitting assembly, it was the first time the House landed into a severe pandemonium, where everything was inaudible, when the bill was put to vote, after the government rejected the opposition’s demand for more consultation.
The government had brought two bills regarding the protection of Pakistan and later clubbed them into one by incorporating the amendments it brought in the bill, passed by the standing committee.
Nevertheless, the requests of the opposition and strong-arm tactics did not deter the treasury to put on hold the controversial piece of legislations that they believed were designed to usurp the fundamental rights of the citizens.
The opposition along with the JUI-F assembled in front of the speaker’s dice, to lodge a protest, but their shouting and slogans of “no, no” did not work.
The protesting opposition torn the copies of the bills, while some members even threw them towards the speaker who kept reading out the bill clause-by-clause by putting on headphone to avoid the loud protest.
Some treasury members from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came forward to support the speaker and lined up to stop the opposition from approaching him.
For the first time, the role of speaker came under criticism which, the opposition urged, should be impartial. But it seemed partisan in this particular case.
The strategy of the opposition to point out the quorum by going out into the lobbies also remained futile, when the speaker declared “the House is in order” after a count was made, where the treasury somewhat managed to keep the required strength.
Earlier, all the leading figures of the opposition scathingly criticized the controversial bill that they believed would prove to be a dreadful piece of law and would be used against political workers.
Opposition Leader, Khursheed Shah, rejected the bill in the present form, and noted that it would bring a bad name to the government rather than serving any purpose.
Pointing at the various clauses of the bill, Shah said that the provision to kill any suspect in “good faith” was a mockery of the law while a raid on any house without any warrant was also a grave source of concern. He suggested the government refrained from haste, saying the bill would be resisted in the Senate if adopted in its present form.
He also questioned the validity of the bill when the government had been releasing Taliban militants, and asked why were they nabbed, if they were to be released. “When you are holding talks with the Taliban, then what utility left of this bill”, he questioned.
PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi also rejected the bill by labeling it as a “black law”. He called on the government to review its policy of rushing the bill through.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Dr Farooq Sattar sounded strongly critical of the bill, and called it “extra-constitutional”. “This bill seems to be continuation of the colonial era”, he remarked.
He also lambasted the talks with the militants, and noted that if talks with terrorists were the “way out”, then what was the need for this bill.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah and Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao also expressed similar concerns, and said the bill was even worse than the FCR in the Tribal Areas.
On his turn, Minister for State and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch said, “We are not enacting a law to kill the people. The country is bleeding and the government desires to protect the innocent people from the tyranny of extremists.”
He noted that the situation started worsening from 1999 and two previous governments also lived with the same situation, but enacted no law for protection. He however stated that if this law could be made better, it should be done but it should not be opposed out-rightly.
Earlier, the House witnessed a walkout from the opposition side when it took up the resolution to extend the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, designed to check electricity theft that was later passed by the House.
Meanwhile, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif told the House that line losses at 100 feeders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA were at 90 percent. He said 2000 megawatts would be added to the national grid in the next two months.
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