Tough day for government in Lower House

* JUI-F strongly objects to Protection of Pakistan Ordinance * MQM walks out of Lower House against ‘extra-judicial’ killings of its workers * FATA lawmakers stage walkout against apathy of govt towards FATA situation
AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Treasury had a hard time during National Assembly’s Wednesday proceedings when one of its allies, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), raised strong objections to the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2014, after a report was brought in a day following an assembly committee approved the bill by a majority. 
The session witnessed more criticism as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) staged a walkout against what it termed as the extra-judicial killing of its activists and workers. Lawmakers from the Tribal Areas also walked out of the session against the government’s apathy towards FATA that had been ignored since Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came to power.
The report on the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which had been passed by the Standing Committee on Interior the other day, was presented to the House by committee chairman Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan. 
Lawmakers from opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, remained silent, since they had protested against the ordinance within the committee a day earlier. 
However, Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led JUI-F took the opportunity to brand the law as anti-Pakistan, and said it (the bill) showed as if all the citizens were criminals. “The House committee did not improve the legislation, and just rephrased it,” JUI-F’s Maulana Amir Zaman said, as he vowed to protest against the law inside and outside of the assembly until the reservations of his party were addressed.
“My party is in talks with the government over this legislation. We have a number of reservations on the various clauses of this bill,” added Zaman.
Earlier, MQM’s lawmaker Asif Hasnain took the floor and drew the attention of the House towards the extra-judicial killings of his party workers in Karachi. He blamed the death squads operating under the patronage of police and secret agencies for these extra-judicial killings, and cautioned against an East Pakistan and Balochistan-like situation in Karachi which, he believed, was being cornered. 
Hasnain appealed to the president, prime minister, interior minister and chief justices of the Supreme Court and Singh High Court to act against this conspiracy against the people of Karachi.
Later, Shah Jee Gul Afridi stirred up the lacklustre proceedings, when he came down hard on the government for its complete ignorance towards the tribal belt, saying the ruling PML-N had made high claims it would uplift the Tribal Areas, but forgot all that after assuming the power. 
“I demand Prime Minister Sharif to hold a meeting with the lawmakers from FATA,” Afridi remarked as he walked out of the House along with other legislators from the tribal belt. 
Speaking on a point of order, PPP’s Imran Zafar Laghari, called on the government to place a demand for the release of civilians, including Shahbaz Taseer and Ali Haider Gilani, in talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
On her turn, PPP’s Dr Nafeesa Shah sought an explanation from the government over its move to continue with the rental power projects (RPPs) with a changed name, and questioned how had such ‘corruption studded’ projects become acceptable. “That is all hypocrisy, and needs the government’s explanation”, she added.
Nevertheless, Minister for National Regulations and Health Services, Sara Afzal Tarar, rejected the media reports about a 30 percent increase in the prices of 179 life-saving drugs during the past few months, when she responded to a call-attention notice from certain PPP MNAs. 
She told the House that the government was brining in a law that would bind the companies to pay all the amount they had earned through an increase in price of drugs without an approval of the government, as fine.
PPP MNAs, however, disputed the claim of the minister, and said simply media reports should not be quoted and that the ground situation had warranted an increase in price of life-saving drugs. 

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