The rare development took place when majority of Senate members approved a constitutional resolution sponsored by 51 opposition lawmakers to ‘disapprove’ Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Ordinance 2015, leaving the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government visibly flustered.
Though all formalities were followed in adopting the resolution, the treasury benches cried foul, saying “undue haste” was not needed at a time when assurances had already been given that PIA would not be privatised and no employee would lose his job.
When the resolution was put up for voting, the numerical superiority of the opposition left the government helpless.
Former law minister Farooq H Naek referred to Article 89(2)II of the Constitution, saying the “ordinance stands repealed and is a past and closed transaction”.
While accepting the ordinance has been repealed, the PML-N members lambasted the opposition, saying they had done nothing but “disregarded” national interest.
Mushahidullah Khan held the previous government of Pakistan Peoples Party responsible for the PIA’s dismal state of affairs. He added the resolution was adopted “in haste”.
A visibly perturbed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said: “I fail to comprehend what you have gained by this resolution.”
He challenged the opposition members if they could prove an iota of change at PIA after the ordinance, except making the struggling organisation independent. “Congratulations! You have ruined it.”
Both Mushahidullah and Dar claimed that after standing committees of both houses had been constituted on the subject, repealing the ordinance was a hasty decision.
While tempers ran high on both sides of the isle, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani noted that “Senate has come of age” with both sides expressing their viewpoints.
Earlier, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the house the first round of quadrilateral meeting on Afghan peace process would take place on January 16. “The peace process will achieve what armies of 16 countries could not in over a decade,” he boasted.
Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China would meet in Islamabad to demarcate the responsibilities of each stakeholder at all stages, the minister said while briefing the house on the army chief’s recent visit to Kabul. “The army chief visited Afghanistan with a message that the peace process will necessarily be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” he added.
Asif said the two sides agreed they would pursue peace and reconciliation with the Taliban groups willing to join the process. The process would not be allowed to suffer only because some elements were not part of it.
A decree would be sought from Ulema that will be later endorsed at the Organisation of Islamic Countries to facilitate the peace process, he added while referring to the significance of fatwas in the Afghan society in particular.
Leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, however, said he was not satisfied with the briefing, but noted “we understand the limitations of the minister” in a veiled reference to the powerful establishment.