ISLAMABAD - Prospect of smooth sailing of controversial Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2014 through the Senate diminished Friday after opposition parties decided to obstruct its passage, leaving the ruling PML-N with two options: either to amend it or take it to parliament’s joint sitting.
All the opposition parties have agreed to resist passage of the controversial bill when the Upper House convenes next week to start the new parliamentary year. Now the PML-N and its partners which lacks even simple majority in the Upper House would not be able to get the Bill through from Senate that meets on Monday.
On Friday MQM, which maintains independent position as opposition party in Senate, approached all the opposition parties including PPP, ANP and PML-Q and got their nod for jointly blocking the controversial Protection of Pakistan (PoP) bill.
“There is hardly any possibility now left for the ruling party to push it through the Senate except that it agrees to do away with the controversial parts of the Bill”, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar told The Nation. He listed three major anomalies in the Bill which he said have to be rectified and if the government did not agree the Bill will be reverted to National Assembly, which has already passed it.
Among these anomalies are ‘definition of the enemy and detention period of the suspect’, which according to PPP Senator tantamount to gross violation of fundamental human rights. Babar said if the government wanted to get the bill passed in the present form anyway, it will have to call joint sitting of the parliament.
Earlier, Senator Babar Khan Ghauri of MQM had a telephonic contact with Aitzaz Ahsen of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Haji Adeel of Awami National Party (ANP) and Kamil Ali Agha (PML-Q) over the matter. Ghauri, who termed the bill illegal, unethical and inhuman, said MQM, PPP, ANP and PML-Q have all agreed to strongly oppose the bill in the upper house of the parliament.
PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani has already made it clear that his party would oppose the Protection of Pakistan Bill in the Senate, saying Pakistan needs stringent laws to deal with extremism but that they should be within the constitutional limits.
A look at the party position in the Senate suggests that the ruling PML-N and its allied parties – National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) – with even support of all the 11 independent and Fata Senators would still need 22 votes to push the Bill through the 105-member House. Interestingly, the JUI-F, a junior coalition partner in the government had already opposed the bill even in the National Assembly, declaring the Bill a draconian law aimed at crippling the fundamental rights of the people enshrined in the constitution. The main opposition parties are also claiming support of some Fata senators. If true, it would leave very limited space for the ruling PML-N and allied parties to manoeuvre.