When friend of friend is a foe…

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  • Sindh Assembly fails to condemn PPO as PPP leaves MQM in lurch on controversial anti-terror law

 

 

The provincial lawmakers from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which is all set to sit on treasury benches in Sindh Assembly, have casted serious doubts on Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s stance on Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO).

The lawmakers, terming PPO a “draconian” law proposed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, referred that their would-be allies [PPP] had an “ambiguous stance” on the issue.

The recent meeting between PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad is believed to have caused a covert change of mind in the PPP ranks. The party, which rules Sindh province, is perceived to have softened its stance on the controversial ordinance.

Zardari’s party, which vehemently opposed – what provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon called an “inhumane ordinance” in the lower and upper houses of the Parliament, the party dilly-dallied the passage of an MQM-backed resolution in Tuesday’s sitting of Sindh Assembly.

If anything, the ongoing “targeted” Karachi operation stands to be a prime reason for the PPP to be flexible on PPO, which empowers the law enforcers – Pakistan Rangers and the police – to shoot the suspects at sight and keep them in detention for 90 days for criminal investigation. PPP denies as MQM insists that its workers are being targeted in the Rangers-led crackdown which is in place since September 4 last year in this violence-prone city.

Noticed and spelt out by Leader of Opposition Faisal Sabzwari in a couple of veiled references, the PPP’s “ambiguous stance” towards PPO furnished PPP-dominated provincial legislature’s failure in demanding from the federal government to withdraw the “unconstitutional” piece of law through adopting a resolution tabled by MQM’s Khawaja Izharul Hassan.

“This house strongly condemns and rejects PPO which is not only in violation of Constitution of Pakistan but also supersedes the judicial system and power of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” reads the draft.

“This house recommends (to) government of Sindh to approach federal government to withdraw dictatorial, unconstitutional and undemocratic ordinance which does not safeguard human rights,” it adds.

With PML-N lawmakers sitting idle almost throughout Tuesday’s hours-long sitting, the MQM members kept scratching their heads in surprise to see PPP suggesting that the resolution be referred to the standing committee concerned for necessary changes – “redrafting”.

Memon urged Khawaja to “rephrase” the draft in a way that it echoes all political parties represented in the 168-member house demanding the federal government to make the ordinance more inclusive by incorporating the recommendations of all parliamentary parties.

Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, another PPP stalwart, quoted Rule 125(3) of the Rules of Procedures saying the draft should be more specific and clear in its reservations over PPO’s objectionable clauses.

“The resolution carries a sweeping statement on the rejection of the ordinance,” he said.

Senior minister Nisar Khuhro read out Rule 257(1), he opined, was warranting the resolution’s reference to the committee.

The PPP’s reluctance to say yes to the resolution came despite the fact that many of the lawmakers, including Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, Dr Seema Zia of PTI, Bijarani, Javed Nagori and Jam Khan Shoro, had blasted PPO in the strongest possible terms.

The MQM legislators were at unease as Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani asked the house if there was a rule providing for the resolution to be referred to the house’s newly-constituted Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs.

Backed by Khawaja, Moeed Pirzada and other party fellows, Sardar Ahmed of MQM was quick to remind the house that the move was nothing more than the house’s opinion to reject the curtailment of “lawlessness through lawlessness”.

“There is no political extremism here. We understand that the (Sindh) government has already set up courts in line with the PPO,” said visibly irritated Sabzwari. The leader of opposition, however, lamented that the treasury benches’ stance on the controversial law was “ambiguous”.

“We should respect our mandate and say in the assembly what we say at corner meetings (held) back in our constituencies,” said the MQM leader dubbing PPO as “draconian”.

Declaring PPP’s party policy towards the “black law”, Memon, however, clarified that his side was opposed to PPO that, he demanded, should first be implemented against Taliban whom the PML-N-led federal government was negotiating with.

“I think the resolution should be made the first task of the Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs. It would review to be put back to the house,” the speaker announced.

Law Minister Sikandar Mandhro proposed one-week time as the displeased MQM lawmakers asked for a timeframe for “redrafting” of the draft.

Ironically, the committee, which came into being a day earlier, is yet to have a chairman to start working. Having started its parliamentary year since May 27 last year, the assembly was able to form at least 34 standing committees, meant to review the proposed legislations, just on Monday after a year on Monday, April 21 (2014).

The assembly would meet again Friday 10am.

2 COMMENTS

  1. These goons of London should be taught how various countries including UK, USA, Saudi Arabia and even India prevented terrorist attacks, after 9/11, with the help of brutal but strong Anti Terrorism Laws.

    The media should play a positive role in bringing Anti Terrorism/ Terrorism Prevention Laws in Pakistan.

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