Amid fierce resistance and in the face of a full-fledged opposition protest in the assembly, the Sindh government managed to pass the Sindh Criminal Prosecution Bill 2015 on Friday. The bill now awaits the Governor’s assent before it officially becomes law, and it is hoped that Ishrat-ul-Ibad has the common sense to send it back to the assembly for review. Under the new law, the Prosecutor General, appointed by the provincial government, can issue guidelines to both subordinate prosecutors and the officials responsible for the investigation (the police, the rangers or whoever else), can remove and replace prosecutors and can even withdraw sub judice (under trial or judgement) cases with the approval of the court.

Even for the layman, it is obvious that this is a bad thing. With corruption cases of various PPP leaders and supposed abettors in court, allowing this bill to become law will provide even more impunity for those in government to exploit their powers and get away scot-free. PPP has clearly no interest in making Karachi and the rest of Sindh crime-free, but its leaders must understand that the mood is slowly changing in the country. Such blatant misuse of power is no longer acceptable. If PPP is really the self-proclaimed champion of democracy, then it must allow debate on policies it cooks up, especially in the assembly; the cornerstone of the democratic process.

With 92 seats out of a total of 168, it is not difficult for the People’s Party to pass any motion at whim alone. PPP can claim that the bill was passed only to adhere to the wishes of the superior judiciary, but if that were really the case, a motion for the suspension of relevant rules for consideration of the bill would not have been tabled. The agenda of the assembly only featured the bill for introductory purposes, and yet, somehow, with the opposition tearing up copies of the bill and screaming ‘no’, it was still passed. Not allowing points of order for members of the opposition and bulldozing a bill through, when the entire opposition is quite clearly expressing their disagreement – on valid grounds too – is yet another example of PPP placing itself at loggerheads with the operation in Karachi and the Rangers. If Ishrat-ul-Ibad does end up approving this bill, the Supreme Court must intervene, for this goes against all the norms of the democratic legal process.