PPO tabled in Senate amid protest by opp

Hamid tells Upper House bill has been changed considerably Legislators want govt to rethink foreign policy, break any links with militant groups in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday moved the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO), 2014, before the Senate, which saw a strong protest from the joint opposition.Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid on behalf of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan tabled the bill, which was subsequently referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice. The bill has already been passed by the National Assembly. “We have changed the bill considerably and as far as clauses relating to detentions are concerned, they have been taken from the already existing law of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and clauses relating to location of detainees have been extracted from Article 10 of the constitution,” Hamid told the Upper House.Speaking on behalf of the opposition leader, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani suggested that the government reconsider the bill in the backdrop of the 27 human rights conventions, which Pakistan is bound to abide by due to the European Union’s GSP Plus status. He said the PPO would lead us towards Nazi-type government in Pakistan. The UK parliamentary report also expressed serious reservations over the PPO of Pakistan. Senators from the ANP and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) also opposed the bill, saying it may contradict human rights conventions in the future. “It’s a black law from Raiwind,” Haji Adeel said.The law grants sweeping powers of arrest and detention to security forces. It permits the security forces to shoot suspects at sight, detain them at secret locations for up to 90 days and carry out raids without search warrants. The security forces can also carry out secret trials. Lawmakers have warned that the law was too broad and that anger over abuses by the police and other law enforcement agencies was already fuelling the growing menace of militancy.Meanwhile, legislators also asked the government to rethink and review its foreign policy and break the alleged links with any militant group in Afghanistan, so as to provide an opportunity to Pakistan for playing a lead role in the region.The senators said that during the past one-and-a-half years, the governments changed in Pakistan, Iran, China, and elections were also held in India and Afghanistan peacefully. Keeping in view such big changes in the whole region, Pakistan has to formulate its foreign policy, which promotes peace in the entire region, especially in Afghanistan, they said. Opposition senators were expressing their views during a debate in the Senate on a motion on foreign policy moved by Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).They called for ending ‘duplicity’ in the foreign policy formulation and for a serious rethink of policy formulation in the light of realities emerging as a result of political transitions last year taking place in neighbouring countries, including China and Iran, and now Afghanistan and India.Taking part in the debate, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the basis of foreign policy formulation is laid out in Article 40 of the constitution. Reading out Article 40, he said that if we have to adhere to them, we must break alleged links with any Afghan insurgents and stop the ability of Afghan fighters to seek refuge in Pakistan. “A stable and democratic civilian government leading foreign policy formulation would be welcomed by all parties, as compared to the security establishment leading it without any accountability,” he said.

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