ISLAMABAD - The government in joint sitting of the parliament yesterday finally managed to pass the controversial PIA (Conversion) Bill 2016 with an aim to convert the national flag carrier as a public limited company.

The house, which was called for legislation over five controversial bills, was dominated by discussion on Panama leaks as the opposition once again asked government to conduct ‘forensic audit of international stature’.

The one-day session, which also adopted Emigration (Amendment) Bill-2016, Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill-2014 and Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill-2016’, saw furore with different intervals throughout the sitting.

The lawmakers from government and opposition passed sarcastic remarks and slogans against each other leaders, prompting the chair to prorogue the house during speeches on Panama leaks.

Two bills, Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill-2016 and Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill-2015, were deferred due to lack of unity among members.

Opposition leader in Senate Aitezaz Ahsan, speaking on issue of Panama papers, suggested government conduct ‘forensic audit of international stature’ to probe panama papers. “Power of autonomy be given to international firm to check financial matters of the PM,” said Ahsan, demanding ‘Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative’ over this matter.

The PPP leader, facing interruption from government members during his speech, questioned sources of funding to accumulate property abroad.

“Had they (Sharif family) kept Philosopher’s Stone to convert everything in gold,” he said, inviting sarcastic remarks from government members as they shouted slogans ‘LPG quota, LPG quota’.

Aitezaz pointed out that the conflicting statements of father and son (Nawaz Sharif and Hussian Nawaz) about procurement of property abroad.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq kept asking Aitezaz to keep focus on Panama leaks and avoid other matters due to ‘time constraint’.

However, he continued with his remarks about the Ittefaq Group saying that this company comprised seven brothers. “Where are the other six names?” he questioned.

The PPP senior leader admitted the government’s stance that registration of an offshore company was not a crime but using it for money laundering is a crime. “How come government can demand taxes from the masses, when the PM family’s name in tax evasion,” he added.

Ahsan said the family of PM through a commercial bank also managed $20 million loan for a sugar mill in early 1990s. He said that this bank was pressurised to secure loan without mortgaging any property. Quoting the section-9 of NAB Ordinance, he said the punishment of this crime is 14-year jail.

About judicial commission to probe panama papers, he was of the view that some of retired judges have ‘refused to head the commission’.

“The commission should be supervised by the chief justice of Pakistan,” he added.

Reacting to Aitezaz’ remarks, Senator Mushahidullah criticised PPP government performance.

“Nawaz Sharif is on a path to develop country’s economy. This path (CPEC) is bit difficult but will bring happiness,” he said, adding that this government would resolve loadshedding issue. “Those who were indulged in loot and plunder during its rule are criticising this government,” he said.

He said Aitezaz had not supported PPP leader in crucial moments. “I think, he in crisis might once again change loyalty and join us,” said Mushahid.

The speaker thrice expunged the words used by Senator Mushahid during his speech. He finally prorogued the house when members from both sides were seemingly not ready to stop raising slogans against each other.

Earlier, the house proceeding remained suspended for two hours to develop consensus between opposition and government.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar , on the demands of opposition in the second half of proceedings, assured the joint sitting of withdrawing in 24 hours all show-cause notices issued to the PIA employees.

“All cases against PIA employees at administrative stage would be withdrawn,” Dar added.

PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi lauded the role of finance minister for his efforts to develop consensus on the PIA Bill.

The government and opposition, three weeks before, had earlier formed a committee to evolved consensus over PIAC bill, 2016. This committee held series of meetings to prepare its recommendation presented in the house.

The government had faced difficulty to refer Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Privatization Bill to joint session due to stiff resistance from opposition.

This government after facing defeat in Senate had proposed in National Assembly through a motion to refer the bill to the joint sitting.

The main purpose of government is to ensure continued operations of country’s airline. “In order to achieve objectives it is imperative to corporatize and convert into a public limited company, incorporated under the companies ordinance, 1984,” says the bill. “This conversion will enable the government to revitalize the airline and develop a healthy, competitive aviation sector in Pakistan.”

The women lawmakers mainly from opposition, at the fag end of proceedings, walked out of the house when JUI-F’s Maulana Ameer Zaman passed remarks about PTI’s Shireen Mazari.