ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Senate Sherry Rehman on Saturday flayed the government for not laying the Island Ordinance in parliament as both houses – National Assembly and Senate – are in session.
Talking to journalists, she said there is clear “mala fide” intent on not tabling this ordinance before the parliament as entire opposition is united against the “blatant usurpation” of provincial powers and rights of indigenous people. “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,” she added. She said the islands belong to Sindh and the Ordinance is a blatant attempt by the federal government to overreach into the concerns of the Province of Sindh, adding it is ultra vires of the constitution in more ways than one, which 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 the 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, she added, “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 and it cannot be said to encompass islands”.
“Let’s not forget that mangroves are assets of Sindh. These should be protected because mangroves save local people 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 that under the constitution, the ownership of the lands, the islands, and the land in the sea is of the provincial government.
She said that this flagrant abuse of parliament and provincial rights is not lost on anyone, adding 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,” she added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020