PPP seeks NA debate on plane crash

Updated 02 Jun 2020


Speaker resumes office after recovering from Covid-19; president visits NA, Senate halls. — APP/File
Speaker resumes office after recovering from Covid-19; president visits NA, Senate halls. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Monday submitted an adjournment motion to the National Assembly secretariat, seeking a debate in the lower house of parliament on the plane crash near the Karachi airport on May 22.

The adjournment motion carries signatures of four PPP MNAs Dr Nafisa Shah, Shahida Rehmani, Naz Baloch and Nasiba Channa and it has been submitted four days before start of a marathon session of the National Assembly during which the government plans to present the federal budget for the financial year 2020-21.

As many as 97 passengers and crew members were killed and two miraculously survived when a Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) A-320 aircraft coming from Lahore crashed in the densely populated Model Colony area near Karachi airport, just two days before Eidul Fitr.

Through the motion, the PPP legislators have demanded a debate on the issue after suspending usual business of the session. Under the rules and as per parliamentary traditions, after presentation of the federal budget, the National Assembly does not take up any other agenda other than the debate on the budget till its passage.

Speaker resumes office after recovering from Covid-19; president visits NA, Senate halls

Sources in the PPP said the party would ask Speaker Asad Qaiser, who formally resumed his duties on Monday after recovering from coronavirus disease, to take up the adjournment motion on the opening days of the assembly as the government plans to present the federal budget on June 12.

In a statement, one of the key movers of the motion and the PPP’s information secretary Dr Nafisa Shah said that 97 precious lives were lost in the plane crash which was the fourth such tragic accident in the last 10 years. “No report as yet has been issued of the last three crashes,” she said.

Dr Shah said the performance of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had come into question the most in these accidents and, therefore, the debate in the National Assembly should be about the performance of both the CAA and the PIA.

It may be recalled that the PPP had already rejected the team constituted by the federal government to probe the plane crash and it has been calling for forming a new panel to hold investigations in an impartial manner.

Raising objections to the government’s investigation team, Dr Shah had stated that the responsibility for any air accident was always on the shoulders of the CAA and, therefore, it should have no representation in the investigation committee.

Hours after the tragic plane crash, a spokesman for the Aviation Division had announced that the federal government had constituted an investigation team to probe the incident. He said the investigation team would be headed by Air Commodore Muhammad Usman Ghani, President of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board, who would be assisted by Wing Commander Malik Muhammad Imran, Additional Director of Technical Investigation; Group Captain Touqeer, Operations Investigator, Pakistan Air Force Safety Board, Kamra; and Nasir Majeed, Joint Director of ATC Ops, AAIB.

The notification said the investigation team would exercise powers conferred under CAA Rules, 1994, and submit its report to the Aviation Division within the shortest possible time. However, a preliminary statement would be issued within a month from the date of the notification.

According to an official handout issued by the NA Secretariat, Speaker Asad Qaiser on Monday resumed his official responsibilities after recuperating from coronavirus illness.

The speaker was accorded a warm welcome on his arrival at Parliament House.

The speaker chaired a meeting of legislative and administrative wings attended by senior officers of both the wings.

Later, he disposed off official business in connection with the forthcoming session of the National Assembly and other administrative matters of the secretariat.

The speaker was briefed about the arrangements for the session of the National Assembly commencing on June 5. He directed for making appropriate arrangements inside the National Assembly Hall, Parliament House and Parliament Lodges keeping in view the health guidelines and SOPs to avert any threat of spread of the pandemic.

President Dr Arif Alvi also visited the National Assembly and the Senate halls on Monday to review the arrangements for the upcoming budget sessions of both the houses of the parliament.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2020