Govt succeeds in wooing Senate body on PPO

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The Senate Standing Committee on Interior approved on Wednesday the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, 2014 which permits security forces to shoot suspects on sight with the permission of a grade-15 official.

This was decided in the committee meeting which met under the chairmanship of Senator Talha Mehmood and was attended by committee members along with officials from the Ministry of Interior and Law and Justice.

Minister In-charge for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid told the standing committee that the government has taken on board all the leaders of parliamentary parties in order to get their recommendations regarding the bill.

“The PPO is not against any individual or party but it is against the enemies of the state. Other countries have also imposed strict laws to counter terrorists,” he said. The minister said that it was difficult for the government and security forces to penalize state enemies with the absence of strict laws in this regard. Hamid told the committee that terrorists take advantage of the absence of witnesses in the courts while the members of the security forces become victims in courts.

Minister for Information Senator Pervez Rasheed said that it will be difficult for the government and security forces to misuse the laws against anyone in the presence of a powerful media and independent judiciary.

He also told committee members that the government has set up a joint investigation committee to inquire the Lahore incident, saying the culprits will face the law in this regard.

MQM Senator Tahir Mashhadi alleged that officials from the security agencies are involved in kidnapping and killings of the innocent citizens. He said that representatives of the people in parliament should take steps for the protection of ordinary citizens. He said that the Supreme Court is hearing the cases of such individuals on a daily basis who become victims of misuse of laws by the security forces.

Mashhadi said the government should ensure that the PPO will not be misused against any individual or party.

Later, Zahid Hamid told the committee that the PPO will be imposed for two years across the country while anyone who challenges the writ of the state, including foreign nationals and people who provide support to such state enemies, will be dealt with under the PPO.

He said investigations will be carried out by the judiciary in the shooting of any terrorist. “Security forces will not be bound by such investigations in areas like FATA as the government is taking action against the terrorists,” he said.