The Protection of Pakistan Ordinance 2014 was approved yesterday during a meeting of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council, chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. By approving the Ordinance, the GB Council has effectively imposed it on the Gilgit-Baltistan region, like other parts of the country.
The ordinance has been criticized by human rights activists and organizations, terming it in violation of the constitution of Pakistan. Others have called it a need of the time, citing security situation of the country and the perpetual ‘state of war’ faced by the tens of millions of people.
An Advocate Ali Zafar, in his article for the Express Tribune newspaper states: “But there is another truth, which is that the state comes before the constitution, law and human rights! If there is a threat to the country then there is no time to discuss legal niceties; people have to unite and accept the fact, without argument, that there is a need for laws, howsoever very harsh or rigid, which allow maximum leverage to the law-enforcing agencies and courts to bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice.”
However, another lawyer Mustafa Ahmad raises alarms about the law in the same newspaper, stating: “A law like the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) is very foreseeably open to abuse. The law, among other things, empowers law-enforcement agencies and armed forces to open fire upon suspects committing offences or those who are likely to commit an offence under the law. One of the civil armed forces that the law applies to is the Pakistan Rangers, who have a history of, in some cases, firing prematurely on suspects like Sarfaraz Shah in Karachi. The same law will also apply to the military operating in Balochistan, where there have been similar reports of trigger-happy incidents. The PPO will provide these forces with a legal cover for such behaviour, which is a clear contravention of well-established human rights principles.”
So, what exactly is the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance?
Reading the contents of the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance 2014 (Amended) might help. <<< (click to download)
Or, even better, read this PILDAT report about the PPO.
Without going into the merits and demerits of the law, which some have even called Draconian, one is tempted to ask a much simpler and basic question, i.e. why is the GB Council eager to implement the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance in Gilgit-Baltistan and not the 19th amendment, or the other amendments that empower the local populace?