On Monday, Pakistan’s government convened a joint session of the two houses of Parliament to adopt several important bills, including one for the privatisation of the country’s ailing flag carrier.
Flight operations of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were suspended for over a week last month due to a countrywide strike by its employees against the planned privatisation of the loss-making airline.
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The protest was launched on January 26 but turned violent when at least two PIA workers were shot dead in clashes with security forces outside the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.
The bill aims to set up the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation as a public limited company. It was already passed by the National Assembly in January but the opposition-controlled Senate rejected it.
There was major opposition to privatisation of PIA and bloody clashes occurred between police and PIA employees’ trade unions when the government announced the privatisation plan.
The government plans to split PIA into two companies and sell the control of its core business to a global airline.
PIA has been running into losses for years and the government says it is not possible to turn it around with the current system of management.
The upper house Senate and lower house National Assembly will meet jointly in the parliament house.
According to the agenda, seven bills will be presented in the Joint Session for passage including the most important bill about PIA’s proposed privatisation.
According to the Constitution, if a bill passed by one house is rejected by the other, then either it is killed or government can get it passed through a joint sitting if it commands overall simple majority of the combined two houses.
Other bills being adopted at the joint sitting include Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, and Privatisation Commission (Second Amendment) Bill.
Most of these bills were sponsored by the opposition but were not passed as the government had opposed them.
Under the deal, the opposition will not oppose government legislation on PIA in return for support for enactment of its favoured laws.