ISLAMABAD - The PTI government came under severe criticism in the National Assembly yesterday for making an attempt to lay down an ordinance related to granting foreign citizens, who have been convicted in Pakistan, the opportunity to file a review appeal.

The opposition blamed the PTI government of facilitating Kulbhushan Jadhav, and now seeking a rubber stamp from the Parliament. Whereas, the government side argued that the PML-N government had opened a window by opting to go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its era.

The opposition not only created severe uproar but also managed to suspend proceedings of the house by pointing out the lack of required quorum. PPP-P chairman Bilawal Bhutto, in an expected move, pointed out lack of strength in the house, which the government could not complete despite the gap of around 45 minutes.

The ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance 2020, which was promulgated on May 20, gives foreign citizens convicted in Pakistan the chance to file a review appeal in the country’s courts.  The ordinance was promulgated after ICJ, in its verdict last year, ruled that Pakistan must grant consular access to Kulbushan Jadhav, an Indian spy convicted and sentenced to death by a military court, and allow him to file a review appeal.

The house witnessed uproar and a match of sloganeering between government and opposition members over the issue.

PML-N’s parliamentary leader Khwaja Muhammad Asif, taking the floor on point of order, strongly criticized the government for legislating through an ordinance, and for facilitating the Indian spy.  “Who is trying to facilitate him? Who is appeasing whom? Why is the government becoming a facilitator and appeasing India?”

The PML-N leader said that presenting this ordinance was against the sovereignty of the country and asked for the reasons behind giving concessions to a terrorist. Asif said the PML-N government was blamed for having relations with India but now events have exposed the PTI government.

PPP-P Chairman Bilawal Butto Zaradi, taking part in discussion, termed the presentation of ordinance by the government as an attempt to give a NRO.

“The PM used to say that he would not give a NRO to anyone, but he has given maximum numbers of NROs, including a NRO on this latest ordinance,” he said, mentioning that he had not only attempted to give NRO to Indian spy but also to EhsanUllah Ehsan.

“Indian pilot was released after a cup of tea, NRO was given to Jahangir Tareen, on Malamjaba project, on sugar and flour scandal,” he said, asking why the government had not taken the house into confidence before presenting the ordinance.

Bilawal said they would not allow the government to do legislation on this ordinance.  He also pointed out lack of required quorum in the house and disrupted the proceedings. The chair suspended the house for 45 minutes but the government could not complete the quorum and failed to lay down the ordinance. Minister for Human Right Shireen Mazari, responding to the concerns raised by opposition, clarified that the PML-N government had opened a window by opting to go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its era.

The minister, facing hullabaloo from opposition, strongly opposed the PML-N’s government for approaching ICJ. “Naveed Qamar you hear me out; as you [PPP-P] also opposed PML-N in the committee on its move to approach ICJ,” she said, mentioning that PTI’s had opposed the idea to contest.

“Because of your [PML-N] wrong step, we [PTI’s government] are facing this situation. If one country does not accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction, the case is not heard,” she argued.

Minister also blamed the previous government for sending a grade-20 Foreign Office official to represent Pakistan in the international judicial body. “Now that you have accepted their jurisdiction and they have passed a verdict, we will have to implement it ...As why did you go to the ICJ then?” she said, mentioning the country was now “stuck with an ICJ decision because of the previous government [PML-N’s] wrong approach.”

Earlier, the house was informed that a uniform curriculum for primary level has been finalized after consultations with the stakeholders for implementation from March next year. Regarding the ban on PIA flights, Parliamentary Secretary for Aviation Jamil Ahmad Khan expressed the confidence that the European Union will soon lift the ban on the PIA flight operations to their countries.