The government is set to receive the National Assembly’s approval for the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) in the assembly’s eighth session today; the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, however, cautioned that it will not be a smooth ride to the finish.
The party has convened a meeting of its parliamentary body for today in order to devise a strategy to block the passage of the ordinance. “We have serious reservations over the PPO,” said PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, adding that discussion about the ordinance was at the top of the agenda.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Qureshi described the ordinance as a ‘black law’, saying that it would turn the country from ‘a welfare state into a police state’. “We will oppose the ordinance fully and will also approach other opposition groups for support,” he added.
Referring to Senator Raza Rabbani’s rejection of the ordinance and the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) subsequent vote in favour of the ordinance once it was approved by the standing committee, he said there had been a change of stance but the PTI would still approach the PPP for support. PTI’s members have submitted a dissenting note over the ordinance, he said. Qureshi said the party would appeal to all parties, including the PML-N, who had been subjected to police brutality during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf.
He said the party had requested the legal community to educate the public about the negative elements of the PPO, expressing surprise that the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and civil society is silent against such a draconian law’.“I would request the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of this ordinance,” he said.
Qureshi said other items up for discussion during the meeting today included the government’s policy on terrorism. The government had been mandated to hold talks with the Taliban and needed to be clear about if that is a feasible option, he said. The government, he alleged, ‘is confused and does not know what to do’. “If the government wants to launch a military operation, it should say so and define the parameters of the operation,” he explained.
The meeting will also discuss the recent by-elections in NA-69, where the seat was vacated by Sumera Malik after her educational documents were found to be fake. “The recent by-election was manipulated,” he said, adding that contesting candidates had not requested additional time for balloting, but this was done anyway.
The PTI boycotted recent assembly sessions during the NA’s seventh session in protest over the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s use of the word ‘tamasha’ (drama) when discussing the PTI’s insistence of thumb verification for voters. Taking a leaf from the government’s book, PTI Information Secretary said the party would not allow ‘the government to do tamasha on the issue of counter terrorism’.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2014.
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