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KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Mian Raza Rabbani has termed an order of the Election Commission of Pakistan uncalled for by which the special committee, constituted by the National Assembly to examine proposals and objections relating to delimitation of the constituencies, was declared tantamount to usurpation of the ECP’s rights.

He said the committee was formed by the NA under Article 69 of the Constitution as such none of the institutions could pass any order against any parliamentary committee. He said instead of passing the order the ECP should have gone through the terms of the committee which would submit its report to the house.

Senator Rabbani, who was speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Bilawal House, said it would be better if all state institutions worked within their constitutional limits. However, he said he would continue to strive to save all national institutions in the country.

Warns govt against privatisation of PIA, Steel Mills

Sen Rabbani, who was flanked by PPP leaders Syed Waqar Mehdi, Saeed Ghani, Rashid Rabbani, Humera Alwani and others, also referred to the government move to privatise PIA and Pakistan Steel by May on the dictation of the IMF without taking them to the Council of Common Interests. He said if the government could not run them, it should be handed over to employees for one year to get the PIA and PS back on the rails by replacing the board of governors. The board should be composed of employees and professional representatives and independent financial experts and two special committees of the Senate be formed to oversee their performance for transparency.

The committees should evaluate their performance every three months so that if there was any flaw, it could be set right.

Sen Rabbani, who is a former Senate chairman and central PPP leader, warned that if the government carried out privatisation of PIA and PS or any national asset, the PPP could take up the issue to parliament, go to court or launch a mass protest outside the parliament.

He said that in a recent report the IMF had indicated that losses of public sector institutions were on the rise in Pakistan with particular reference to PIA and PS, suggesting their privatisation. He asked what right the IMF and the World Bank had to dictate to Pakistan. He said only three months were left for the present government, but it wanted to sell the national institutions at throwaway prices. He deplored the language being used by the federal ministers offering to buy one and get the other free “as if it were their private assets”. He said they were the assets of the people of Pakistan. He attributed PIA running into losses to the open skies policy of the government by surrendering financially sound routes to foreign airlines.

He said the Steel Mills being offered for privatisation was a conspiracy to get its land. The mills was closed and its employees were not being paid their salaries.

Demanding immediate payment of salaries to its employees, he said that these institutions were assets of the people of Pakistan and all its provinces as such the PPP would resist any such moves at every forum.

Raza Rabbani also referred to another “anti-labour” move of the federal government by not devolving EOBI under the 18th Amendment of the Constitution to the provinces and transferring Rs3 billion from the workers pension fund to Bait-ul-Mal and climate change ministry. He said the pension of a worker was Rs5,250 by which one hardly managed to run the family kitchen; the government move was aimed to stop payment of pension. He demanded immediate reimbursement of the funds given to Bait-ul-Mal and the climate change ministry.

He said it was also reported that the government was holding negotiations to get funds from certain quarters and deposit in its kitty to show that Pakistan had enough foreign exchange. He demanded that before signing any agreement in this regard all such agreements be laid before parliament so that the people could be taken on board in the terms and conditions of loan.

In reply to a question, he said the PPP government in the Centre could not approve the bailout package of Rs12bn as it was making efforts to make the PS functional on its own. He said K-Electric could not be re-nationalised due to legal complications.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2018