Why has the PIDA ordinance not been laid in parliament? questions Sherry Rehman
Islamabad, October 17, 2020: Condemning the Island Ordinance, Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Both houses of the Parliament have met but this Ordinance was still not laid before them. There is clear mala fide intent on not tabling this ordinance before the Parliament. The entire opposition is united against this blatant usurpation of provincial powers and rights of indigenous people.
She said, “This is an attempt to encroach on Sindh’s land and a clear violation of the Constitution of Pakistan. Article 172 of the Constitution clearly states that any property which has no rightful owner shall, if located in a Province, vest in the Government of that Province. The Islands belong to Sindh and this Ordinance is a blatant attempt by the federal government to overreach into the concerns of the Province of Sindh. It is ultra vires of the constitution in more ways than one, wgich is why they are afraid to bring it to parliament but they will have to “.
“There are 300 small and big islands located off the Sindh coastal belt which the federal government wants to take under its control but they are forgetting that these are the property of the indigenous people living there. Their land cannot be taken away without their consent. Sindh’s people will not allow federal government to steal and misuse its lands.” she added.
She explained that, “Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act, 1976 confirms the opinion that nothing in that Act empowers the Federal Government to assume control over and vest in itself the ownership of the Bundal and Buddo Islands. To the extent the Federal Government has control over the continental shelf, it is pointed out the continental shelf is the sea-bed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond the territorial waters of Pakistan for 200 nautical miles from the natural continental margin. It cannot be said to encompass islands”.
“Let’s not forget that mangroves are assets of Sindh. It should be protected because mangroves save locals from tsunamis and cyclones. What is more important is that the islands are part of the Indus Delta – a protected site under the Ramsar Convention, to which Pakistan is a signatory,” she added.
Rehman said, “Under the Constitution, the ownership of the lands, the islands, and the land in the sea is of the provincial government. Why is the Constitution being interpreted otherwise? The islands are not the property of the federal government. The members of Karachi Bar Association (KBA) have also dubbed the PIDA ordinance as a black law and have demanded its immediate withdrawal”.
She said, “This flagrant abuse of Parliament and provincial rights is not lost on anyone. Why is that the ordinance that was issued on September 2, and surfaced on October 3? Why was it not made public? Why was it not tabled and discussed in the National Assembly or Senate? Presidential powers are reserved for emergency situations and cannot be misused like this. The PTI led government has only been relying on the promulgation of ordinances for doing legislation and has issued a total of 31 ordinances as compared to seven during the last year”.
“This Ordinance is an overreach by the Federation into the concerns of the Province of Sindh. The Islands belong to Sindh and to the people of Sindh and cannot be used by the Federal Government as a property development scheme. The Ordinance is an example not just of legislative overreach but also abuse of Parliament by the employment of Presidential powers,” she added.
“Under the 18th Amendment, housing and tourism are devolved to the provinces but now the federal government wants to exploit our lands for their financial gains. Is this another attempt to attack the 18th Amendment and strip the provinces of their lands and indigenous people of their rights?” questioned the Senator.
She said, “As if the people were not suffering already, this construction and development of islands would deprive around 800,000 fishermen of their livelihood and they would suffer extreme poverty. Developing the islands would only add to the environmental degradation, damage fisheries and the mangroves”.
“This ordinance is a threat to the economic, cultural and social sovereignty of the people living there. How can this decision be made without consulting the Government of Sindh?” Rehman questioned.
“No court or other authority shall have the jurisdiction to question the legality of anything done or any action taken under the PIDA ordinance by or at the instance of the authority.” said the Senator while discussing the Authority’s overreaching powers.
She said, “CM Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, has clearly stated that Sindh government never issued NOC into the matter. They only asked the federal government on what kind of development they want to carry out on the islands. Sindh will hold talks over the Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance, 2020”.
Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, “We did not let this happen in 2007 and even now, we will protect the rights and lands of our indigenous people. PPP will use all parliamentary forums to withdraw this draconian Ordinance. Sindh cabinet has unanimously rejected the Presidential Ordinance and we will oppose it in the parliament too. The federal government should not exceed its authority and must withdraw the ordinance. PPP will not let the federal government use Sindh’s land for their property development schemes”.