ISLAMABAD - The opposition in the Senate on Friday demanded of the government to withdraw article 245 of the constitution immediately, saying the basic rights of the citizens have been usurped and the jurisdiction of the Islamabad High Court has been curtailed as a result of this step.
The joint opposition parties in the Senate as well as Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), an independent opposition party, also staged a protest walkout from the house over the decision of the government to invoke article 245 in the federal capital. Before this walkout, the house also unanimously passed a resolution that condemned the killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces in the strongest terms, saying the Israel is committing continued genocide of the people of Gaza.
The government said that invoking of article 245 of the constitution in Islamabad did not mean to usurp the basic rights of the citizens at all but it is meant for the security of the sensitive installations.
Mian Raza Rabbani, parliamentary leader of PPP in the Senate, on a point of order condemned the step of the government to invoke article 245 of the constitution and termed it as an irresponsible step. After the two incidents of terrorism in Islamabad, the government and interior minister had claimed that a rapid response force had been formed and now Islamabad was the safest place, he said. "Now why the government is taking refuge under article 245," Rabbani said, adding that the jurisdiction of Islamabad High Court had been curtailed under this article so that citizens could not go to court for their basic rights under the constitution and there could not be any judicial review of any action. He said that black history of article 245 was present in Pakistan and it was invoked in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto regime and later Bhutto accepted his mistake. "We have seen its backlash and we should learn from the mistakes of the past," he said.
Rabbani questioned whether the situation in Islamabad was worse than FATA and Wana and if it was not so then why the article 245 has been invoked in the federal capital. He argued, "If interior minister says that it has been invoked to call in army for the protection of buildings then a step could also be taken under article 131 (A) of CrPC and under this article armed forces could be called for aid to civil administration but basic rights of the citizens remain intact. Leave the article 131, you with a big fanfare get passed Protection of Pakistan Bill (PPB) and it was also enforced in Islamabad," he said and questioned why the government did not depend upon the provisions of PPB and anti-terrorism act.
Rabbani said, "The PPP will oppose invoking of article 245 in National Assembly and Senate. We condemn its invocation and demand immediate withdrawal of article 245." He said all opposition parties in the Senate the other day told PM Nawaz Sharif that invoking of article 245 had no solid reason and the government should withdraw it. "This does not suit to a democratic government. It is not a reasonable step to usurp basic human rights in democracy and hand over Islamabad to army," he asserted before staging the protest walkout.
The MQM also separately staged a walkout from the house after its lawmaker Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said it was absolutely wrong to invoke article 245. "What was its need when Parliament gave PPB to the government and amended ATA?" he questioned and demanded the withdrawal of article 245.
Hammayun Khan Mandokhel said that army should not be called in, as army is encouraged through such steps to topple the government.
Federal Minister for SAFRON Lt Gen (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch answering the objections of the opposition over invoking of article 245 said that the impression was wrong that article 245 of the constitution had been imposed like section 144 of PPC. He said that article 245 had been invoked to give legal cover to armed forces, as there was a need to protect the sensitive installations of the government. No group of people could be allowed to occupy sensitive installations like Parliament House, President House, Prime Minister House, he remarked.
Baloch said when things go out of the control of police, the role of the armed forces begins but they should keep in mind that army do not use batons or slaps. "You cannot expose Parliament to a mob," he said and questioned if it is a democratic right of a person to occupy the Diplomatic Enclave. He assured that the basic rights of the citizens had not been usurped and asked which court had denied hearing the cases of human rights.
"It is our responsibility to respect the mandate of 180 million people. He said army would be used as a last resort and it was not the duty of the army to disperse the people participating in the rally on August 14.
Senator Mushahid Hussain of PML-Q had a hot argument with PML-N's Mushahid Ullah Khan when the latter said that Tahirul Qadri of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) used the word of Yazidi (cruel) force for the federal government and PML-Q leadership sits on his right and left daily. Mushahid remarked that the government had failed to handle the Model Town tragedy properly.
The resolution moved by Mian Raza Rabbani, which was passed by the Senate, recalled that Israel, the aggressor, continues to attack homes, schools, mosques and hospitals and target women and children in blatant violation of the Geneva Convention and international laws.
It says that it is noted that Western Capitals, UN and world leaders have failed to have this genocide stopped. It is disturbing that Muslim countries and the OIC are unmoved. The resolution called upon the government to pursue an aggressive diplomatic offensive to have these mass murders stopped and have the inhuman blockade of Gaza lifted immediately.