Ruckus in NA over Achakzai, Asif remarks

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Passes Alternate Dispute Resolution, Counter Terrorism Authority, witness protection bills

Islamabad

The National Assembly Thursday passed “The Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017”. The bill was moved by Law Minister Zahid Hamid.
The Minister said that it is a historic bill aimed at ensuring speedy justice. He said it will help reduce backlog of cases in lower judiciary.
The House also passed “The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017”, “The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2016”, “The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Bill, 2016”, “The Provincial Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2015” and “The Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Bill, 2017”.
National Assembly session was prorogued on Thursday amidst uproar first created by the remarks of Pakhtukhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Chief Mahmoud Khan Achakzai on FATA and then the statement made by Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif on the procession outside PESCO office in Peshawar.
Taking the floor on a point of order, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah expressed doubts over government’s intentions for reforms in the tribal areas. He along with Shah Mehmoud Qureshi of Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaaf supported the merger of FATA into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Mahmoud Khan Achakzai who opposes the merger proposal said those having no knowledge of FATA issues have no discretion to speak on the fate of the tribal people. These remarks stirred up the opposition ranks and Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah again stood up saying FATA is party of Pakistan and the parliament is representative of entire country including tribal areas. Speaker Ayaz Saqid also echoed the sentiments of the opposition leader.
Shah Mehmoud Qureshi strongly censured the statement of PKMAP chief saying the statement shows that certain people have yet not accepted the creation of Pakistan. He said the parliamentarians have the right to speak on any issue, though one may disagree with the point of view of the others.
Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch tried to allay the fears of the opposition regarding the implementation of FATA reforms package saying the government is committed to the reforms in FATA.
He said the FATA Reforms Package comprising 36 points was formulated after comprehensive consultation with the stakeholders.
The Minister said that the government believes in the supremacy of the Parliament and that is why the Tribal Areas Rewaj Act was laid before the House the other day.
Highlighting the main points of the package, he said these include mainstreaming of tribal areas and abolition of FCR.
The Minister dispelled the impression that the Prime Minister has given him any directions to put the matter of FATA reforms on hold. Referring to the opposition of the reforms package by the allies, he clarified that the allies have agreed to most of the points of the package. He said there is no pressure from the allies to stop the reforms package. He categorically stated that FATA reforms bill will be brought before the House for approval.
On a point of order, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif strongly regretted the procession led by an MNA outside PESCO office in Peshawar. He said the protestors ransacked the PESCO office and manhandled the staff there. He pointed out that there is 89 percent power pilferage in the feeder where the MNA resides.
Khawaja Asif said that there are 928 feeders in PESCO. Of these, 252 are to be totally exempted from load-shedding. Such a facility is not available in any other province. He further stated that four hours load-shedding is being carried out 171 feeders and six hours in 85 feeders.
His remarks that the thieves carried out the procession outside PESCO office, though expunged by the speaker, drew ire from the opposition. The opposition leader asked the minister to withdraw the statement. As the minister did not budge, the opposition staged a walk out from the house. Later the house was prorogued due to the lack of quorum. At the start of the proceedings, the house had admitted an adjournment motion for discussion on the recent incident of unprovoked firing by the Afghan forces on Pakistani villages in Chaman. But as the opposition, the movers, staged the walk out, the discussion could not take place.