dailypeghamISLAMABAD:Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has assured the opposition that the government has no intention to hand over the management of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to shareholders but it only wants to help the national flag carrier back on its wings again.

Dar made this commitment on Tuesday while briefing a 10-member special parliamentary body constituted to review the drafts of six bills, including the controversial bill that seeks to convert PIA into a limited company.

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Climate Change Minister Zahid Hamid is heading the committee which includes lawmakers from treasury benches, as well as all the major opposition groups.

“The management will remain with the government and I, being the privatisation minister, will not let outsourcing of PIA happen,” Dar said, adding that amendments from the opposition would be entertained by the government.

The minister promised to learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes committed during privatisation of other government assets like the Pakistan Telecommunication Limited (PTCL).

Members of the upper house were largely satisfied with the briefing over the bill, which was deferred during a joint session of parliament till another sitting due to reservations of the opposition.

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Dar said after privatisation only 26 per cent shares of the core business would go to the shareholders while the non-core business would remain with the government.

“The 26 per cent share does not mean total handover of the PIA management,” he said, adding that the government was ready to guarantee that it would not let total privatisation happen.

To this, the PTI’s Asad Umar remarked that the government had both the questions and their answers and they were also in a majority to pass the bill.

The PPP’s Saeed Ghani said they would consult the party over the issue and suggested that representatives of the PIA’s employees’ union should also be invited to the discussion. The suggestion was backed by the MQM’s Abdul Waseem. Dar, however, categorically rejected the suggestion. “The government does not need to invite the union to this forum,” he said.

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Other bills

Consideration on anti-rape and anti-honour killing laws was deferred. PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar said murders in the name of honour had largely gone unpunished because in most cases both the accused and victim have the same guardians (wali) who promptly pardon the accused.

The JUI-F’s Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman suggested forwarding both the bills to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for further discussion.

Babar, however, opposed the suggestion, saying that the anti-honour killing law was passed unanimously not only by the Senate Committee on Interior but the Senate also passed it unanimously in March 2014.

The anti-rape bill that seeks to make DNA testing compulsory as part of the procedure and investigation in all rape cases was also deferred till the next meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee.

Babar said the bill too had been passed unanimously both at the committee level and the full Senate in March 2014 by all political parties. “Referring it to the CCI will only delay the matter,” he added.

Both the bills, initially moved by the PPP Senator Sughra Imam, could not be passed by the lower house in the mandatory 90-day period and were referred to the joint sitting on a motion moved by Babar.

Immigration and civil servants bills were passed unanimously with some amendments. The committee agreed to meet on April 6, one day before the finalisation of a comprehensive report on the bills.