Opposition requisitions NA, Senate sessions over PIA fiascoPakistan
ISLAMABAD: As the week-long protest by PIA employees turned violent, opposition parties joined hands on Tuesday to requisition separate sessions of the National Assembly and Senate, to discuss the matter and register their protest against the government’s privatisation policy.
The requisition notice has been signed by 121 opposition members of the National Assembly, whereas 34 senators have put their signatures on a similar notice submitted to the Senate Secretariat.
The requisition submitted to the NA Secretariat contains signatures of the members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and Awami National Party (ANP), besides six independent MNAs from Fata.
In the Senate, members from all opposition parties, except the ANP and BNP-Mengal, have put their signatures on the notice.
After the submission of the notices, NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani are bound to convene sessions of both houses within 14 days.
Besides seeking discussion on the imposition of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) 1952 on PIA, opposition members in the National Assembly have also included the issue of “insufficient reduction” in the oil prices on the agenda submitted with the notice.
In the Senate, opposition members have submitted the notice with three agenda items, which includes the government’s decision to burden gas consumers with Rs101 billion through imposition of a new tax.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament House after a meeting of opposition parties, PPP’s Syed Khurshid Shah held the federal government directly responsible for the “murder” of at least two PIA employees during the protest in Karachi.
“The rulers will have answer... we will not let it become another Model Town incident,” Mr Shah said in an apparent reference to the killing of Pakistan Awami Tehrik activists by police action in Lahore in 2014. No-one has been held responsible for the incident.
Flanked by PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi and JI’s Sahibzada Tariqullah, Mr Shah said the government would have to identify the ones responsible for the “murders” of PIA employees.
“We will ask the government to expose those responsible for the killings. Is it the interior minister or the information minister,” Mr Shah asked.
The PPP leader said the information minister had made ‘provocative remarks’ against protesting PIA employees in his statement to the media on Monday. He warned that if the federal government used Rangers to kill people in the provinces, there could be grave consequences.
Terming the Essential Services Maintenance Act “a draconian law”, Mr Shah said it seemed that the soul of former military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq had snuck into parliament.
Mr Qureshi asked the speaker to convene the requisitioned session immediately, without waiting for the two-week deadline, as the country was “on fire”. He said the PTI had already given a call for a countrywide demonstration on Feb 6 to protest against the government’s privatisation and economic policies.
JI’s Tariqullah was of the view that the government had itself started the process of its downfall.
Responding to a question if the PPP would also resort to street agitation like the PTI, Mr Shah said his party would use the parliament as the platform for launching any movement against the government. He said the PPP had great respect for the parliament and wanted to see resolution of the national issues through it.
This is the first time the PPP and the PTI have jointly requisitioned an assembly session, since the PTI has been playing the role of an independent opposition party over the past two years.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2016