NA passes resolution extending PPO for 120 days

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  • Zahid Hamid tells House govt ready to incorporate more amendments proposed by Opp for bill’s unanimous passage
  • Khurshid Shah says PPO a direct attack on fundamental rights of citizens
  • JUI-F members walkout from session in protest against PPO

The government on Wednesday passed a resolution in the National Assembly to extend the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) for further 120 days whereas opposition party members and members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) protested against the government’s move and staged a walk-out from the Lower House of parliament.

Zahid Hamid, who was tasked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to start a consultation process to finalise the changes needed to make the draft bill palatable, tried to calm the opposition by contending that the PPO was necessary for protection of the country and told them that necessary amendments were made in it.

“We will even incorporate more amendments of the opposition for its passage as bill unanimously” Zahid said.

Opposition leader Khurshid Shah, belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), also protested against the resolution.

He said that any bill having the consent of the all the nation would be allowed to sail through the house and added that the piece of legislation was a direct attack on the fundamental rights of the citizens. Subsequently, he announced that a walkout would be staged in the House along with the all opposition parties.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Shah Mehmood Qureshi terming the bill as a ‘black law’ said that it had been rejected by the nation.

“The government should try to evolve a consensus rather than repeating the scenes of last session when a similar kind of legislation created the ugly scenes in the house,” Shah suggested and added that he felt the country’s defence needs but he exerted that it should not be at the cost of fundamental rights of the citizens.

MNA Abdul Rashid Godil, belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), said that the government could not be supported in killing the country’s citizens.

Moreover, MNAs belonging to the JUI-F staged a walkout, saying that instead of extending the PPO the bill should have been jointly legislated.

The Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) bill promulgated in October last year grants sweeping powers of arrest and detention to police and security agencies.

Opposition members had claimed that the bill was a move by the government to legitimise enforced disappearances in the country. The ordinance bill was approved by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Interior on Jan 21 this year. On April 7, the Protection of Pakistan Bill was approved in the National Assembly, amid much uproar and protests.

POLITICS OF ISSUES:

Taking the floor, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique urged the opposition to do politics of issues and not entangle the government in non issues.

He warned that the politics of agitation could push the country into chaos and confusion at a time when positive changes are taking place. He said the opposition should demonstrate maturity in its conduct and show their performance in their respective provincial governments.

On the dialogue process with Taliban, the minister said this process will be taken forward after taking into confidence the political leadership. “The interior minister regularly briefs media and lawmakers about the progress made in this regard and this process will be continued in future as well. Talks with armed insurgents is a complex and time consuming matter but it is the endeavour of the government to achieve peace and stability without shedding blood,” he said.

Participating in the debate on law and order, Asiya Naz Tanoli appreciated the government’s efforts towards protecting the lives and property of the public. She expressed the confidence that these efforts will yield positive results to make the country an abode of peace.

Voicing concerns over existing law and order situation, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad said security institutions form backbone of the country’s defense and they should not be made controversial.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai said the country is passing through difficult time and the onus lies with the political parties to stand united to pull the country out of the current situation.