ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday approved a 120-day extension in two anti-terrorism ordinances and Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) with majority vote amidst a strong protest by the opposition parties, particularly PTI, MQM, Jamaat-e-Islami.
All the three ordinances were moved by Federal Minister of Science and Technology Zahid Hamid for extension of another 120 days after their lapse, which started from Thursday. Although the government faced no problem in getting passed the resolutions seeking the 120-day extension because of a heavy presence of treasury members, the opposition parties, particularly MQM and PTI, spoke out loudly against what they called draconian ordinances meant to usurp the fundamental rights of the citizens.
The opposition accused the government of resorting to “ordinances of culture” rather than carrying out legislation for anti-terror measures. “We have no problem with the aims of the ordinances to counter terrorism. But the procedure adopted for brining in the ordinances and later their extension from the assembly is not democratic at all,” PTI deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi remarked.
Fierce opposition was also put up by the MQM whose legislators were more vocal in their opposition to these ordinances and their extension. “The government is itself admitting its failure by getting extended these ordinances from the assembly,” MQM’s Nabeel Gabol while terming this practice of the government as “breaching the sanctity of the elected assembly. Meanwhile, PPP lawmakers were conspicuous by their silence until leader of opposition Khursheed Shah turned up in the House and protested mildly, objecting only to the procedure adopted for extending the ordinances.
“The government should not await the lapse of an ordinance to carry out legislation and should start work immediately for turning these ordinances into proper law,” Shah suggested. Aftab Khan Sherpao admitted that extension in the ordinances did not mean they were to be turned into law. However, he was sceptical about the government’s use of such method instead of legislating. Jamaat-e-Islami’s parliamentary leader Sahibzada Tariqullah condemned the ordinances and called them a “direct attack” on the prerogative of parliament to legislate. He noted that such ordinances would turn the country into a police state by giving unprecedented powers to law enforcing agencies.
PTI’s Javed Hashmi said that extension in the ordinances would deprive the Upper House of parliament of its right of legislation. He reminded the government that such ordinances and legislations were even used against Nawaz Sharif when his government was toppled by a dictator, a reference to Pervez Musharraf. The House approved two resolutions, with majority vote, seeking 120-day extension in Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 (VII) and Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 (VIII2013). MQM and PTI both voted against the ordinance VII but on ordinance VIII, PTI did not protest.
Through a separate resolution, the House also passed the resolution to grant a 120-day extension in Protection of Pakistan Ordinance 2013 (IX of 2013), which received a strong protest from opposition benches, with shouts of “no, no”.
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