PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday proposed amendments to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1975, to prohibit the questioning of the use of its helicopters and aircraft.

The bill was introduced by labour minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai in the provincial assembly causing heated exchanges between the treasury and opposition members.

Shouting slogans of ‘NRO’, the opposition lawmakers insisted that the proposed amendments to the law were meant to favour those who unlawfully used the provincial government’s helicopters.

Section 7B(7) of the bill reads, “All official journeys, any excursions, so carried out and undertaken on my aircraft or helicopter of government by the chief minister, any minister, advisor or special assistant to chief minister, public servant or government servant, or any of his support staff, aides, any other individual, on and from 1st November, 2008 till the commencement of the KP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 2022, shall deem to be validly carried out and undertaken under this Act and shall not be called in question for want of any deficiency of procedure or approval, as the case may be.”

Opposition rejects proposed amendments to law, insist they’re meant to favour those who unlawfully used helicopters

The alleged misuse of government helicopter has already been taken up by the National Accountability Bureau.

The anti-graft watchdog had summoned Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan in July 2018 for using the provincial government’s helicopters allegedly for private visits.

Also during the sitting, members questioned the provincial government’s response to the recent wave of terror and condemned threats to and attacks on people’s representatives.

Pakistan Peoples Party member Nighat Orakzai said the cabinet members had security cover, while the people’s representatives faced threats to their lives and were being targeted.

She said security arrangements should be made for opposition members as well.

Parliamentary leader of the opposition Awami National Party Sardar Hussain Babak said the region had been “unstable” for 45 years.

He regretted that the province’s police hadn’t been trained in how to handle the law and order situation, while its manpower was also required to be increased.

Mr Babak said the house of ANP lawmaker from Shangal area Faisal Zeb came under attack twice, while death threats were also issued to him.

The parliamentary leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz demanded the formation of a committee, comprising members of both treasury and opposition benches, on the matter.

Responding to a question by PTI member Pakhtun Yar Khan on arrests during a Bannu protest sit-in, adviser to the chief minister Babar Saleem Swati directed the relevant department to immediately release all detainees and withdraw cases registered against them.

He said 540 militants had been arrested in the province during the last 10 months.

The aide to the chief minister said 141 militants and proclaimed offenders, including 42 with head money, had been killed, while 88 police personnel were martyred and 109 wounded.

He said it wasn’t humanly possible to protect 1300km border with Afghanistan but the residents of the province had never felt scared and instead, they challenged terrorists.

On a point of order, PTI member Sajida condemned the “anti-women” remarks of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Maulana Fazl Rehman and said the women, who made 52 per cent of the country’s population, would never tolerate foul language for themselves.

Women MPAs from the treasury benches walked out of the sitting afterwards.

The labour minister also introduced the audit report on the accounts of ‘climate change, environmental and disaster management organisation of the government’ for the financial year 2021-2022. The chair referred the report to the Public Accounts Committee for examination.

Mr Yousafzai also introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Public Service (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Regularization of Services of Project Employees of the Directorate General Livestock and Diary Development (Extension) of the Erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas Bill, 2022.

The session was later adjourned until Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

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