“Federal regimes on islands under provincial jurisdiction” – Latest News – The Nation
Delivering an impassioned but reasoned speech, Raza Rabbani, a seasoned parliamentarian and former president of the Senate, surely conveyed a chilling message on Monday afternoon.
Recalling a series of demonstrable events, it almost sounded convincing while demonstrating that since taking office in August 2018, the Imran government has increasingly attempted to impose a stifling brand of “hybrid democracy”.
Critical voices are firmly denied constitutional rights of expression, and space for academic and media freedom has visibly shrunk. As if that were not enough to ensure top-down governance of command and control, the government eventually began to also fine-tune a still insufficient “autonomy”, which the 18th Amendment of the Constitution had granted to the provinces.
Being a constant admirer of Raza Rabbani’s enviable mastery of the art of rhetoric in addition to his integrity, one is however bound to assess his speech in the context of the agenda that the opposition had collectively set for Monday’s session.
Taking advantage of their numerical advantage, the opposition parties forced the government to convene the current session of the upper house of parliament. They even dictated the agenda. But they failed miserably, if the intention was to push the government into a difficult situation by making strong and sensational accusations against it.
For several months, the great alliance of ten opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has been organizing rallies in all our major cities. At nearly every one of these gatherings, speaker after speaker strove to stir up public sentiment by leveling accusations that the federal government was secretly carrying out an insidious scheme. It seemed categorical to seize certain islands, declared constitutionally the property of the provincial governments. Cleverly “snatched up” islands would then be handed over to world-class real estate developers. Two particular islands, currently under the control of the government of Sindh, have been specifically named in said context.
The passionately drummed up allegations sparked a huge backlash, not only in Sindh but also in Balochistan. Thousands of fishermen seriously fear for their only source of income. The story of the island’s abduction has also alarmed environmentally conscious civil society activists.
You can’t accuse the opposition of making up a false story. Imran’s government had indeed provided them with solid content by slyly issuing an ordinance, clearly expressing the intention to take control of certain islands. But the said ordinance had expired on December 28, 2020 after not being adopted by parliament.
It certainly made it easier for the cunning but polite Minister of Justice, Faroogh Nasim, to employ every possible trick, fair or crass, to promote the story that the opposition was crying over a “non-issue”, just to score points. political points.
However, his otherwise very clever speech made it clear that the federal government was still determined to eventually take control of the islands in question. Probably to achieve this, it will be necessary to wait until the end of March of this year. By then, new elections for 48 Senate seats would be complete. In the expected elections, the Imran government appears confident of managing a slim but viable majority for him in the upper house of parliament as well. This will surely provide space for the federal government to take control of the discussed islands, through “appropriate legislation”.
If the question of real or alleged intent to seize power was truly “dead and buried,” the Attorney General should not have consumed the genius of a cunning lawyer to build the case our constitution authorized” clearly “the federal government to initiate” development projects”, on islands under “provincial jurisdiction”.
Citing several articles of the constitution, back to back, and referring to a Supreme Court decision, he continued to assert “federal” right over “national” resources. Emphasizing the rights and authority of the federal government was not its only intention. Visibly vicious and sadistic, he also sounded while happily remembering that in 1974, the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had also introduced the Constitution of Pakistan in 1973, had placed the island in question under the control of Port Qasim Authority, a “federal” outfit indeed.
He looked doubly mean by posting a document which, to him, made it clear that the PPP-led government of Sindh had initially shown no reluctance to return the islands in question. The Sindh Cabinet thoroughly considered the federal government’s request in the said context and finally conveyed “no objections” through an “official communication”. Perhaps the reaction from the fishing community and civil society activists has made you think. They also urged the Sindh government to announce the “withdrawal” of the “no objection”. However, strong legal precedents do not support ‘ulterior motives’.
If you go by words, words and words, the Minister of Justice seems to have completely demolished the case that the opposition had built against the possible seizure of certain islands, currently under the provincial jurisdiction of Sindh and Balochistan.
Only an equally intelligent and energetic lawyer from the opposition benches could pierce his case by pointing holes. But PPP’s Sassi Palejo spoke after Faroogh Nasim. She is certainly an ardent promoter and defender of provincial rights. Hailing from Thatta, a coastal town, she also has an innate and deep affinity with the concerns of the fishing community. But his impassioned speech failed to tell a counter-story, demolishing the case that Faroogh Nasim had tried to build by cleverly employing every possible tool of a skilled but heartless lawyer.
I seriously believe that after the speeches of Faroogh Nasim and Raza Rabbani, the President of the Senate should have settled the matter under discussion. The government, however, preferred to continue with him, mainly to rub in its favorite theme, consisting in projecting our opposition parties as reckless representatives of “looters and looters”, recently “in league” in the PDM to slander “good governance by Imran. Khan and selfishly sabotage his mission to transform Pakistan into a stable and prosperous country.
A ruling party backbencher, Aurangzeb, took the stage to promote the same on Monday afternoon. On another day, Wasim Shahzad, the head of the house also strained his lungs to educate us on a very complex issue of “identity” with feigned compassion and nonsense. So ended another day in our upper room.