Opposition parties will be meeting in Karachi on Tuesday to devise a strategy on the controversial PIA bill ahead of the joint sitting of parliament slated for April 11.
The meeting will be held at the residence of Syed Naveed Qamar of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) a day before the Committee of the Joint Sitting on Bills takes up the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill 2016, seeking to convert the national flag carrier into a limited company and two pro-women bills. Talking to Dawn on Saturday, PPP’s Saeed Ghani said that Asad Umar of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Dr Farooq Sattar of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were expected to meet PPP representatives on Tuesday to finalise their recommendations and amendments to the PIA bill.
They also would review the new draft of the bill had the same been provided by the government by that time. At the last (March 29) meeting of the committee headed by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, the government and the opposition had come closer to an agreement after Finance Minister Ishaq Dar expressed his readiness to amend the draft in order to remove the concerns of opposition parties. Mr Dar had assured the committee that PIA would not be privatised and that interests of its employees would be protected. He had also said that management control would not be handed over to anyone and the private sector would not be offered any shares and that no PIA employee would lose his or her job.
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The opposition members had said that they were ready to support the bill and suggested that the minutes of the meeting containing the minister’s assurances be made part of the draft. The minister had agreed to the proposal. Responding to a question, Mr Ghani said that so far they had not received any new draft. He said they had not been waiting for any draft and would prepare their own amendments and recommendations for the bill. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Human Rights Barrister Zafarullah Khan said the new draft would be sent to the opposition members by Monday or Tuesday.
Mr Zafarullah, who has been tasked with preparing the new draft, claimed that an agreement had already been reached with the opposition and that it was only a matter of “the wording of the draft law”. He said the government would welcome the “positive amendments” of the opposition parties so that the bill could be passed with consensus. The committee consisting of members from both houses of parliament has also been tasked with suggesting changes to other bills on the agenda of the joint sitting. There were six bills on the agenda for the joint sitting of parliament that had been passed by the Senate but which could not go through the National Assembly within stipulated 90 days.
As regards the PIA bill, it has been passed by the National Assembly but the Senate has rejected it. Besides the PIA bill, other bills which the committee is reviewing are the Emigration (Amendment) Bill 2014; the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015; the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015; and the Privatisation Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2015. The committee had deferred the two pro-women bills when the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl made some objections. A government team is scheduled to meet JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to take the religious party on board over the two bills. The first bill pertains to preventing killing of women in the name of honour and the other seeks to make the DNA test part of investigation into rape cases.