Already facing resistance in the National Assembly, Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO), with its contentious clauses, has dwindling chances of approval in the Opposition-dominated Senate.
When the ordinance was presented before the Senate on Tuesday, opposition parties in the Upper House made it clear that they would not let it pass, unless the clauses that infringe basic human rights are amended.
Senators Raza Rabbani and Babar Awan of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) warned the government that the proposed law could be misused if enacted.
To transform the ordinance into a law, it needs approval from both houses of Parliament separately.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has been facing resistance in the National Assembly but the party has a convincing numerical majority in the lower house. However, the treasury side is in the minority in the Senate.
The PPO, promulgated last year and later amended a number of times, still has some stringent clauses, which the opposition parties and civil society believe could be misused and, therefore, will sanction abuse by law.
Around seven clauses of this ordinance were against the human rights guaranteed under the Constitution, said Senators Rabbani and Awan. “Under this law, a court can strip me of my citizenship…the law-enforcement agencies can fire at any one on the mere grounds of suspicion and make arbitrary arrests,” Rabbani pointed out.
He suggested that the government make a joint committee of both houses to deliberate this ordinance thoroughly.
With the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance 2014, the government would have the power to cancel the citizenship of any combating enemy as he would be treated as an alien and his act considered a crime against the state.
In addition, Section 6 of PPO 2013, pertaining to preventive detention, now stands altered. According to the amended clause, the government can extend the 90-day preventive detention of any person, without any explanation. Special courts would also be established in consultation with the chief justices of the high courts concerned to hear these cases.
Opposition parties staged a walkout over the government’s failure to reduce prices of petroleum products, despite the recommendation made by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
The house will resume its session on Thursday afternoon.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2014.