ISLAMABAD, April 6: The opposition members blasted the government on Tuesday for tabling and supporting the National Security Council (NSC) bill, and termed it a "death warrant" for the sovereignty and supremacy of parliament.

Taking part in the general debate on the NSC bill in the evening session, the opposition members criticized the treasury members for allowing a permanent role for the military in the political affairs of the state.

The opposition members suggested that the army should be sent back to the barracks as its real job was to defend the country's frontiers. Terming the establishment of the NSC an attempt to perpetuate martial law in a different form, they said it would further bring disrepute to the armed forces.

Initiating the debate, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan of the People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP) responded to the five arguments which the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Raza Hayat Hiraj, gave in support of the NSC bill.

The PPP MNA said it was true that the security councils existed in the US, India and Turkey. However, he observed, there was no role of the military in the NSCs in the US and India, and the councils in these countries comprised civilian people.

As far as Turkey was concerned, he said, its army had played a major role in the country's liberation. "What role did our army play in Pakistan's independence?" he asked, adding: "These army men were saluting the Union Jack till Aug 13, 1947." Pakistan, he said, was created by politicians and the army had no role in its establishment.

Mr Ahsan said today only those countries were counted among developed nations which had kept their armies away from the government and political matters. Today, he went on to say, the ruling members were giving up to the illegal encroachers the space which had been created by the Quaid-i-Azam, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mohammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif for the civil society. "This is sad," he remarked.

He said the presentation of the NSC bill itself proved that the country was passing through a crisis. He also ridiculed the government's claim that the NSC would be a consultative body.

Mr Ahsan, who is also an eminent lawyer, said in the famous judges case, the Supreme Court had defined the word "consultation", and the SC had declared the advice of the Chief Justice as "binding" on the government.

Mr Aitzaz said the treasury members should realize the intentions of "those" who were behind the idea of the creation of the NSC. It was wrong to say that the NSC would stop the way of martial laws in the country, he stressed. "What happened when a commander-in-chief of the army was made the cabinet member with the same idea in 1950s?"

He also criticized those civilian presidents who had used Article 58-2(B) in the past, and made the army chief a part of the so-called troika. He asked the prime minister and the cabinet members not to surrender their powers.

Farid Ahmed Piracha of the MMA said the army forcibly ruled the country for over 28 years and now it was demanding a permanent role in the national affairs. The NSC bill, he said, would make parliament a hostage.

Mr Piracha said whenever the army was called out to resolve a crisis, it gave birth to a new crisis for the country. "When the army was called out in March 1971 during a crisis, we suffered a new crisis in the shape of East Pakistan tragedy."

The MMA leader said the only way to stop martial laws was the implementation of Article 6 of the Constitution. He was of the view that if the politicians stood united on this point and opposed the NSC, Musharraf's would be the last military rule in the country.

Raja Pervez Ashraf of the PPP said the time had come when they should decide who had the right to rule the country. He regretted that the politicians were surrendering their powers to a "dictator".

Hafiz Hussain Ahmed asked Gen Musharraf to remove his uniform immediately. He said the writ of parliament would end with the establishment of the NSC. PPP's Syed Qurban Ali Shah said the NSC bill was being presented at a time when parliamentary revolution was taking place around the world.

He gave the examples of Spain, the Philippines, Brazil and Georgia in this regard. Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani said the NSC bill was in conflict with the Constitution.

Opinion

Editorial

Bad measures
Updated 25 Jul, 2024

Bad measures

They do not seem to have realised that they have put the country’s best interests at risk.
Hamas-Fatah deal
25 Jul, 2024

Hamas-Fatah deal

THE Beijing Declaration signed in the Chinese capital on Tuesday reiterates the need for internal Palestinian unity...
Rating risks
25 Jul, 2024

Rating risks

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s recent discussions with the executives of the two top global credit rating...
Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...