The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has extended the controversial Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) for another 120 days, disregarding concerns of both the opposition and one of its own allies.
Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid tabled a resolution in the National Assembly on Wednesday seeking an extension in the ordinance. At the same time, he assured opposition lawmakers that their proposed amendments have been incorporated in the modified bill which now doesn’t infringe on any fundamental rights.
Although the National Assembly has passed the PPO bill earlier, the legislation could not sail through the Senate, where the opposition parties are in majority. Opposition lawmakers and rights campaigners fear provisions such as permission to shoot suspects on sight, secret trials and longer detentions without trial could be misused.
Before all parties save the N-League boycotted the session, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the government to refrain from sponsoring legislation which, he said, had been “widely condemned by different segments of society”.
“All opposition parties, civil society, media and human rights organisations have expressed concern over this legislative package, and some have even called it a black law,” Qureshi said. Pointing out that the PPO had provoked the opposition ever since it was first presented in the house, he asked for consensus-based legislation in place of the controversial bill.
“You [the government] tried to steamroll the bill [through Parliament] earlier as well, but let the committee constituted by the prime minister evolve a consensus on the issue first.”
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Parliamentary Leader Abdul Rashid Godil said the PPO, even now, was being used to rein in workers of his party in Karachi. “Yes, the country needs extraordinary measures in extraordinary circumstances, but the fact of the matter is that these extraordinary laws are not being implemented in the areas hit by militancy.”
JUI-F’s Kishwar Naeema, on the other hand, said her party’s differences with the government on this law had kept them from formally joining the federal cabinet.
Law and order debate
Speaking on law and order, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Mehmood Khan Achakzai cautioned the government against a traumatic outcome of a military operation in North Waziristan, saying militants could be anticipating the move and preparing to trap our soldiers. “The government should not take action against the Taliban until it finalises its arrangements with the new administration in Afghanistan,” he said.
Street Child Football team witness session
Pakistan’s street child football team — which recently won bronze at the recent Street Child World Cup in Brazil — received warm welcome from the lawmakers hailing from all parties represented in Parliament. The house expressed its gratitude by passing a unanimous resolution commending the magnificent performance of the young footballers who won laurels for the country despite all odds.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2014.