ISLAMABAD: The government finally laid before the National Assembly on Monday the controversial ordinance aimed at allowing Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to have consular access in line with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) amid mysterious silence of the opposition which had previously prevented it from doing so through a strong protest and boycott of the proceedings.
The ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance 2020, which had been promulgated by the government in May, was among the five ordinances laid before the house by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan as no one from the opposition benches made any objection to it.
However, minutes before adjournment of the sitting till Tuesday evening, Shahida Akhtar Ali of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) talked about the controversial ordinance and criticised the government for facilitating the Indian spy weeks before the first anniversary of the forceful annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by India on Aug 5.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who had forcefully opposed the government’s move to lay the ordinance before the assembly last week and even announced the boycott of the proceedings on Thursday to block the laying of the ordinance, entered the house when the adviser had already laid all the five ordinances on the agenda.
The PPP chairman immediately got the floor, but he only talked about the other bills on the agenda.
PTI, PPP lawmakers from Karachi clash over civic issues
Mr Bhutto-Zardari, who had said on Thursday that the opposition’s conscience did not allow them to let the session continue with the ordinance on its agenda, only requested Speaker Asad Qaiser to defer the legislative business and bring these bills to the house with a consensus.
The PPP chairman said the opposition was ready to cooperate with the government on the legislations needed to fulfil the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against terrorism and regarding the National Action Plan, but since the speaker had already constituted a special committee, the bills should only be introduced after developing a consensus.
But the speaker overruled his objection, saying that introduction of the bills was a requirement under rules after which these bills would definitely go to the committees concerned for discussion.
Later, Babar Awan introduced eight bills, including the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020. Besides laying the Jadhav-specific ordinance, he also laid the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, the Corporate Restructuring Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, the Companies (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2020 and the Public Private Partnership Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 before the National Assembly.
While opposing the ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, the opposition had questioned the government’s move to “facilitate” a “declared terrorist” — who was caught from Balochistan in 2016 and then convicted by a military court in April 2017 after his confession — and equated the new ordinance with the “NRO” (National Reconciliation Ordinance) issued by former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf as part of a deal with the PPP in 2007 to end cases against politicians.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari had also rejected the explanation later given by Law Minister Farogh Naseem in the assembly and addressing a news conference he had challenged the government to get the law passed from parliament without the opposition’s support.
The house once again witnessed a heated exchange of arguments between the lawmakers from Karachi belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the PPP, which is ruling Sindh, over alleged mismanagement by the city managers, which was exposed after Sunday’s heavy rain in the city.
“Yesterday when the people of Karachi were drowning, these people [PPP leaders] were cutting cakes,” said PTI’s Faheem Khan, referring to the celebration by the PPP of the birthday of former president Asif Ali Zardari. He alleged that there were 12,000 ghost employees in the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board who were recruited on political basis.
Another PTI MNA from the city Aftab Siddiqui said Karachi had not suffered such a loss last year when it had received 163 millimetres of rain, but the Sunday’s average 28mm rain had ruined the city. He claimed that last year the city was saved because of the campaign to clean nullahs by Ports and Shipping Minister Ali Zaidi with PTI volunteers.
“Karachi is being made Mohenjo Daro …. the city is being destroyed under a pre-planned scheme. Because when Karachi will be destroyed, the country’s economy will be destroyed and then the whole country will face paralysis,” Mr Siddiqui alleged.
PPP’s Agha Rafiullah said the PTI people talked about Karachi only for “political point-scoring” as they had done nothing for the city over the last two years. He said Karachi was facing these issues over the years as Sindh had always been treated as a colony. He blamed the cantonment boards for the accumulation of rainwater on roads which, he said, had established their hegemony in the city.
Earlier, the house had seen a heated debate between Communications Minister Murad Saeed and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal when both claimed credit for various China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, including Chitral-Dir-Chakdara Road.
Mr Iqbal challenged the minister’s claim that work on the western route of CPEC had been initiated by the PTI government. He also refuted the allegations of corruption in the Sukkur-Multan Motorway project.
The minister repeated the allegations and challenged Mr Iqbal, who had served as the planning and development minister in the previous PML-N government, to take him to the Supreme Court.
Mr Iqbal, however, suggested that the matter be referred to the parliamentary committee on CPEC to determine whether the project of Chitral-Dir-Chakdara Road was included in the CPEC during tenure of the PTI or the PML-N government.
Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2020