ISLAMABAD: As members of the bicameral house take their seats at today’s joint sitting of parliament following a three-week break, they will be mindful of the long shadow of stalled progress in the previous session.
The joint sitting was last adjourned on March 11. Of the six bills referred to the 10-member committee concerned, consensus was achieved only on the Pakistan International Airlines conversion bill and two others.
The agenda for this session included the six bills from the previous sitting.
Apart from the bill relating to PIA, the other bills that the committee discussed included the Emigration (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015, the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Privatisation Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2015.
Of all the bills on the agenda, only emigration and civil servants bills were adopted with consensus.
Initially, the government had planned to convene the joint sitting for considering the PIA bill, but it included five other bills on the agenda after the Senate passed a resolution and its chairperson, Raza Rabbani, directed the government to consider the bills already passed by the Senate and not the National Assembly.
The government and the opposition have been sparring over the PIA issue since January this year.
The government initially imposed a PIA law through a presidential ordinance in December last year, triggering protests from the opposition parties and a countrywide strike of PIA employees.
The ordinance was later rejected by the Senate via a resolution which forced the government to take advantage of its strength in the National Assembly and hold the joint sitting to get the bill passed.
Earlier, the government was pushing for privatising the national air carrier but after severe criticism from the opposition, it abandoned the move to give away 16 per cent shares of the airline.
During the two meetings of the 10-member committee, members of the opposition successfully protected the rights of the airline workers, blocking the government from realising its intentions.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2016.