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Senate rejected bill to convert PIA into public limited company

05 March, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of Parliament on Friday rejected with majority votes a bill moved by the government to convert Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) into a public limited company.

The PIA Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2015 was moved by Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid on behalf of Minister for State and Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed. The bill provided necessary legislative framework for setting up of the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) into a public limited company.

Deputy Chairman of Senate Abdul Gafoor Haideri sought verbal consent to take the bill into consideration twice, which was rejected by majority voice both times. The Senate standing committee in its report presented to the House on Tuesday also rejected the bill. The bill has now been referred to a joint session of parliament, which is expected to take place next week. The bill is expected to pass as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) enjoys simple majority in a joint session.

The House also passed a resolution calling upon the government to provide funds on priority basis for the refurbishment and rehabilitation of the Federal Lodges in Islamabad.

Over a calling attention notice, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar raised the issue of mysteriously disappeared persons. Baber urged the House to discuss the European Commission’s report on the human rights situation in the country. “The situation of missing persons will get worse if we continue to deny the need for introducing a measure of transparency, oversight and accountability in the working of the nation’s security agencies,” he said.

The PPP leader said that the Senate Committee of the Whole on speedy and inexpensive justice also took notice of the enforced disappearances and has called upon the government to submit its report to Senate bi-partisan oversight committee within a month. “If the committee is satisfied with the report of the government then it shall share the progress with the House otherwise the committee shall recommend that the bill may be moved as a private member’s bill by all the parliamentary party leaders,” he said.

Babar said that yet another step forward in addressing the issue is to review the progress made in the implementation of the actions in aid of civil power regulation in tribal areas. “This 2011 regulation was given retrospective effect from Feb 2008 to enable the security agencies bring into the open for trial in courts those who had already been in their custody for the past four years but not produced before any court of law,” he said, and asked the minister to inform the House about the number of persons who were in custody of security agencies since 2008 and surfaced in 2011 together with their present status whether under trial, convicted or in detention.

The PPP senator said that the European Commission’s report had also highlighted the issue of torture in custody. “Pakistan had signed and ratified the convention against torture and it was obligatory to enact legislation to prevent torture and degrading punishments,” he said.

Responding to the calling attention notice of Babar, Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid said that 60 measures in different areas had been suggested in action plan including legislation reforms, administration of justice, protection of women rights, rights of children, jail reforms, media awareness, international treaty implementation, strengthening of human rights institutions and others. He said there were some positive things in the European Union’s recent report regarding human rights in Pakistan but the mover highlighted only the negative aspects.

Meanwhile, the opposition lawmakers staged walked out over the remarks of Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC). There was uproar in the House when the minister observed that no province was self-sufficient in gas production. He said that the funds collected through GDIC would be spent on projects of national importance across country.

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