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Senate embarrasses govt by rejecting PIA ordinance

Senate embarrasses govt by rejecting PIA ordinance

ISLAMABAD: The government faced an awkward situation in the opposition-dominated Senate on Thursday when it adopted a landmark resolution to disapprove the controversial PIA ordinance, which seeks to convert the national flag carrier into a company.

After passage of the resolution moved by the PPP’s Saeed Ghani on behalf of 52 senators from both sides of the aisle, the PIA Corporation (Conversion) Ordinance 2015 promulgated by the president on Dec 5 stands repealed.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani put the resolution for a voice vote when no one from the treasury benches, including Leader of House Raja Zafarul Haq and Law Minister Pervaiz Rashid, took the floor to oppose it.

But soon after its passage, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and former minister Musha­hidullah Khan assailed the opposition parties, accusing them of ‘indulging in political point-scoring on an important national issue’.

There were 37 opposition and 23 government members in the house at the time of voting. The resolution was passed through a majority vote.

Meanwhile, the house witnessed a brief verbal clash between opposition and treasury members. But the Senate chairman prevented the situation from worsening by stopping Mushahidullah Khan from passing personal remarks against Saeed Ghani.

An angry finance minister alleged that the resolution had been passed in haste and the opposition had taken advantage of its numerical strength. “We are setting wrong traditions.”

He reiterated the government’s claim that the ordinance was not aimed at privatising the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and was promulgated to take the airline out of the control of bureaucracy and to improve financial health of the national carrier.

Mr Dar alleged that some opposition members had misguided PIA employees and incited them to observe protest by telling them that the ordinance had been promulgated to privatise the airline, which would lead to sacking of the employees.

He said that it was deplorable that the resolution had been passed only a day after the National Assembly secretariat had notified constitution of a special committee having representation of all parties to resolve the issue.

The minister said that the government had many other ways to enact the law. “It could have introduced the law in the National Assembly where it has a majority. And after its rejection by the Senate, the government could have taken this bill to a joint sitting of the parliament as allowed by the constitution.”

Mr Dar said that he had always tried not to invoke the constitution’s provision of summoning a joint session despite being asked by the government to do so when the Senate in the past had amended two laws that had already been passed by the National Assembly.

He said the government wanted to take further action in this regard in consultation with opposition parties.

Mushahidullah Khan, in his hard-hitting speech, alleged that the previous PPP government had brought the PIA to the verge of collapse by making out-of-merit appointments and through corruption.

Responding to Ishaq Dar’s remarks, Saeed Ghani said if the law was aimed at improving PIA affairs, why the government had brought it through an ordinance in the darkness of night at a time when the National Assembly was scheduled to meet after two days.

He said the opposition had no regret for its action and would in future also use its constitutional right to oppose the trend of carrying out legislation through ordinances.

“You (the government) also have the constitutional right to get the law passed through a joint session. Go for it.”

Meanwhile, the Senate chairman also refuted the allegation that the resolution had been adopted in haste, saying that prior notices were issued to the minister concerned three days ago.

The resolution was submitted under Article 89(2) of the Constitution. It carried signatures of the senators belonging to the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, PML-Q, Balochistan National Party-Awami, Jamaat-i-Islami and some independents.

The members of the Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party, a partner of the ruling coalition, had also put their signatures on the resolution, which says: “This house disapproves the ordinance titled the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Ordinance 2015.”

Article 89(2) of the Constitution allows the president to promulgate an ordinance but also puts some restrictions in this regard. It states that an ordinance “shall stand repealed at the expiration of 129 days from its promulgation or, if before the expiration of that period a resolution disapproving it is passed by either house, upon the passing of that resolution”.

The provision was made part of the constitution through the unanimously passed historic 18th Amendment in 2010.

Sources in the ruling PML-N said that the government was now considering to bring the law again in the form of a bill in the National Assembly session starting from today (Thursday).

Courtesy : DawnNews



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