NA passes Pakistan Protection Bill in haste

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  • MQM, PPP, PTI, JI, JUI-F join hands against bill, demand opposition be taken into confidence

 

The National Assembly (NA) late on Monday approved the Pakistan Protection Bill 2013, Ordinance No 9 despite protests and walkout by the opposition parties.

Soon after the bill was presented in the assembly by Federal Minister of Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, opposition parties, including government’s coalition partner Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), opposed the bill and walked out of the assembly.

The opposition parties also tore the copies of the bill and tried to access the speaker’s dais; only to be blocked by government parliamentarians shielding the speaker.

Under the Pakistan Protection Bill, trial of any case would not be in contradiction to Article 10 of the Constitution. Special courts would also be formed to ensure the speedy trial of terrorism-related cases. Any person convicted could also be kept in any jail across the country.

After the bill’s approval, a joint interrogation team would investigate terrorism-related cases.

OPPOSITION HUDDLES:

Opposing the bill, Opposition leader Khurshid Shah said that that since the bill was of utter importance, it should not have been be passed in such haste. He wanted opposition be taken into confidence on the bill’s features, including the one which allows keeping people in custody for 90 days without warrants.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi cautioned that even if the government enforced its will in NA, it would never be able to get the bill passed from the Senate.

While JUI-F opposed the bill on the grounds that it was a negation of constitutional spirit, MQM’s Farooq Sattar termed the bill extra-constitutional. Sattar, while offering the government the benefit of private members day, said that the government should talk to MQM about the bill.

GOVT DEFENDS BILL:

Minister for State and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch called for a protective law to save the country from terrorism and sectarian violence.

“The country is bleeding. We need to protect lives and property of our people and this needs a protective law,” he said during the discussion on the Protection of Pakistan Bill 2013 and the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2014.

He said the situation started worsening from 1999 and two previous governments also lived with the same situation but enacted no law for protection. “Even today they are opposing the bill knowing well that this wave of terrorism has claimed the lives of 40,000 Pakistanis.”

He mentioned the examples like release of Ajmal Pahari; the killer of 100 people as well as quashing the cases against 8,000 people of a political party.

“We are not enacting a law to kill the people. The country is bleeding and the government desires to protect the innocent people from the tyranny of extremists,” he added.

He however stated that if this law can be made better, it should be done but it should not be opposed out rightly.