ISLAMABAD: Deeming it a “hard” law, the Senate on Monday unanimously passed the controversial Pakistan Protection Act 2014 as a consensus was reached between the government and the opposition.
Minister Zahid Hamid, who had presented the bill in the Senate in the absence of the Interior Minister Chauidhry Nisar Ali Khan, said that since a military operation had begun in North Waziristan, the passage of the bill was of utmost importance.
The bill is aimed at giving law enforcement agencies more power to tackle terrorism and with judicial oversight to increase conviction. But it had met with uproar when it was first introduced in the upper and lower houses in April.
But after a consensus developed between the various political parties, it passed through the Senate on Monday. The passed law will be applicable for a period of two years.
“The committee approved this law keeping in mind that it should be used on merit and not against religious seminaries” said Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) Senator Talha Mehmood. Mehmood is also the Chariman of the standing committee on Interior and Narcotics.
Among the amendments made to the bill, the term “insurrection” has been inserted along with war against Pakistan, to which the law will come into action. While the term “enemy alien” has been categorised, referring to a person whose identity as a Pakistani is unascertainable. Use of force by the armed forces has been limited to an official not below BS-15, which if results in the death of the suspect will be subject to an internal inquiry by the head of the concerned law enforcement agency. If required, all such cases will be reviewed through a judicial inquiry. The remand period of the accused has been fixed at 60 days, down from 90. On reasonable grounds the government has been empowered to detain for a period of 90 days in a designated internment camp.
Meanwhile, Joint Investigation Teams will have the right to withhold information of a detainee except from a High Court or Supreme Court. While the government may not disclose the grounds for detention of a suspect for security reasons, the burden of proof will also lie upon the suspect.
Cyber crimes, Internet based offences and other offenses related to information technology which facilitate any offense under the act as well as crossing national boundaries illegally have also been included in the list of scheduled offenses. Special courts will be formed with the consultation of the Chief Justices of the High Courts to deal with such cases. A suspects right to appeal a judgment in high courts has also been reserved.
Earlier, in a call attention notice by ANP Senator Afrasiab Khattak, recent attack on an aircraft at Peshawar airport. Khattak claimed that the province was suffering in the tussle between the Federal and Provincial government. He was joined in by Senator Zahid Khan and Raza Rabbani who demanded that the national airline fill in for the international flights that have stopped their service to Peshawar. However, after an “unsatisfactory” answer from the treasury benches, the opposition, sans the MQM, staged a walked out to protest security at airports.
Emigration Bill 2013:
Earlier, Senate unanimously passed "The Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2013”. The bill aims at providing amendments to the Emigration Ordinance, 1979, Radio Pakistan reported.
The Bill was moved Maula Bakhsh Chandio and two reports were presented in the House in this regard on Monday.
Convener of the Special Committee on Recruitment Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq presented the report of the Committee in the House.