ISLAMABAD - Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday told the Parliamentary Committee on the Joint Sitting Bills the government had no intention to hand over the administrative control of Pakistan International Airlines to the strategic partner.

Briefing the committee members, Ishaq Dar made it clear that neither 26 percent shares of PIA would be sold out nor was the government interested in selling the hotels owned by the airline. He further said in case of approval of PIA Privatisation Bill from the Parliament, only the core business of PIA would be transferred to Pakistan Airways while nothing else would be passed on to the new company.

He made it loud and clear that neither 26 percent shares nor the hotel owned by the airline would be sold out. Its management would also not be handed over to the strategic partner. He also assured the PIA employees of protecting their jobs and said all what the government wanted was to bring administrative spruce to contain the losses of the national flag carrier.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on the Joint Sitting Bills could not make any progress on the other bills under review. JUI-F Senator Maulana Ata-ur-Rehman objected to two pieces of proposed legislations related to women, insisting on referring the said bills to the Council of Islamic Ideology before deliberations on it at the forum.

The committee meeting, held under the chair of Federal Minister Zahid Hamid, took up the bills on preventing killings of women for ‘honour’ and making DNA test a compulsory part of procedure in investigating rape cases. The JUI-F lawmaker objected to it and said it should be referred to CII first. He also termed the proposed amendments to these bills by the government unnecessary.

Defending the bills, Senator Farhatullah Babar said murders in the name of honour had largely gone unpunished because in most cases both the accused and the victim had the same guardian (wali) who promptly pardoned the accused. “The bill seeks to remove a major lacuna in the law by making honour killing a non-compoundable offence,” he said.

Opposing the JUI-F suggestion to refer the bill to CII, Senator Farhatullah Babar said the anti-honour killing law was passed unanimously not only by the Senate Committee on Interior, headed by JUI Senator Talha Mahmood, but also was adopted unanimously in March 2014 by the entire Senate, including the senators from PML-N, JUI, ANP, MQM, PML-Q and the other parties.

The assertion that making honour killing a non-compoundable offence was in conflict with ideology or religious tenets was not correct, he said.

The anti-rape bill that seeks to make the DNA test compulsory as part of the procedure and investigation in all rape cases was also deferred till the next meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee.

Apart from making a DNA test compulsory, the anti-rape bill also seeks to protect the identity of the victim and enhances punishment for rape in a police station or in custody of law-enforcing agencies.

Farhatullah Babar said this bill too had been passed unanimously, both at the committee level and the full Senate in March 2014 by all political parties, including the JUI-F. Referring it to the CCI would only delay the matter, he added.

The preamble to the anti-rape law states that rape is a heinous crime; an act of violence that ruins the lives of the victims, but the conviction rate for this heinous offence is abysmally low. Answering a question, he said of over 100 rape cases registered in the Islamabad Capital Territory there had not been a single conviction. The bill, he said, was aimed at removing fundamental lacunae in the existing law.

Both the bills, initially moved by PPP Senator Sughra Imam in the Senate as private member bills, could not be passed by the National Assembly in the mandatory 90 days and were referred to the Joint sitting on a motion moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar.

The two bills taken up by the committee yesterday are included in the seven bills recently referred by the Joint sitting of the Parliament to the Committee of the Joint Sittings.