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Old Thursday, November 12, 2009
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Post Nuclear Command Authority Ordinance being made law

Nuclear Command Authority Ordinance being made law
(Wednesday, November 11, 2009 by Rauf Klasra)

ISLAMABAD: In an obvious bid to address international concerns about the safety of nuclear assets in Pakistan, the Chairman NA Standing Committee on Defence MNA Azra Fazal Pechuho, is rushing the report of her 17-member committee to the National Assembly today (Wednesday) to seek immediate legal cover to the Nuclear Command Authority Ordinance 2007.
Growing international concern over the much hyped issue of safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets particularly in the wake of the deadly attack on the GHQ by terrorists, followed by a full blown controversy stirred by a recent scathing article by Pulitzer winner journalist Seymour Hersh, was said to have forced top leadership to urgently get the now two-year old ordinance to be immediately wrought into law to allay international fears, both real and imaginary.

According to the recommended committee draft, the president will be the chairman of the Authority with the prime minister as the vice chairman while ministers for foreign affairs, defence, finance, interior, and three services chiefs, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, DG Strategic Planning Division (SPD) will be its members.

The nuclear command authority is being given sweeping powers under the clause of “indemnity’ as no law suite, prosecution, or other legal proceedings shall lie against the authority, its chairman, members and employees in respect of anything, which is done in a good faith or intended to be done under this law or the rules, instructions or directions made or issued.

The Authority shall implement measures and assist the federal government pursuant to any obligation on Pakistan relating to non-proliferation, safety, security, accidents, terrorism etc. The NA committee has recommended five minor amendments in the original bill. The Authority would have the powers to authorize possession and use of firearms to security force personnel who are in the service of the Authority.

The government is also tabling the “compelling reasons” in the lower house along with the report of the committee to re-emphasize the urgent need to enact this bill, which became a mandatory step after Pakistan went nuclear in 1998 and why it was necessary to bring this law to the Parliament to address the concerns of the international community.

But, the new law is silent over the important issue of who would hold the power to delay the pushing of the button in case of a nuclear threat from any country in a state of war. The law aims at protecting Pakistan’s nuclear assets and its secrets and whosoever, including uniformed or civilian functionary, will breach the security or the secrecy would be punishable with a minimum of 25-year jail term. A session judge notified by the federal government shall have the jurisdiction to try offences under this law.

All the officers and employees, advisors, consultants and any other person appointed by the Authority in connection with the affairs of the Authority and affairs of the strategic organizations coming under the control and management of the Authority shall execute declaration of the fidelity and secrecy in prescribed manner.

Under the new law, the Authority shall have the powers to perform all such functions that are necessary to implement the objects and purpose of this law. It will exercise complete command and control over all nuclear space related technologies, systems and matters. It will supervise, manage, and coordinate the administration, management control and audit of budget, programs and projects etc. It will take measures regarding employees in respect of their movement, communication, privacy, assembly or association, in the public interest or the interest of the integrity, security or the defence of Pakistan or friendly relations with foreign states and public order.

It will also ensure security and safety of nuclear establishment, nuclear materials and to safeguard all information and technology relating to said matters. The Authority will have also to carry out functions of fact finding, inquiry, investigation, prosecution, etc of offences under the law.

Meanwhile, the government has attached a statement of objective with the bill to inform the parliamentarians why it was important to enact this law. It said, “Nuclear Authority was created with a wide mandate in respect of all issues relating to nuclear and space technologies and to matters including the jurisdiction to regulate and administer the affairs of the strategic organizations and all the organization working in the strategic areas should be formally linked. The authority was also set up to ensure effective penalties under the law to deter any possibility, negligence, attempted proliferation, violation of rules etc.

It said, “The National Command Authority Ordinance provides comprehensive legal basis for the functions and powers of the NCA, persons working under it. It also said that the law demonstrated that Pakistan would continue to exercise full and complete control, security and safety measures all over the matters concerning nuclear and space technologies, nuclear establishments, nuclear system, nuclear material, relevant personnel and related information etc.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Babar Awan will table the bill in the NA on Wednesday for its approval before sending it to the Senate of Pakistan before President Zardari gets to sign it into law. The committee headed by Dr Azra (sister of President Asif Ali Zardari) included Nawab Abdul Ghani Talpur, Amir Ali Magsi, Bilal Virk, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Fasial Saleh Hayat, Ch Wajhat Hussain, Syed Haider Ali Shah, Jawad Hussain, Ayaz Amir, Talib Hassan Nakai, Begum Ishrat Ashraf, Abdul Wahid Soomro, Gulam Mujtaba Kharal and others.

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Default Are our leaders brave enough???

i wanna know that under the said law as it is obvious that the NC&CA will be having anormous powers bt what is wisdom behind maiknd the president n PM as its head? n 3 CHIEFS, & CCJSC as members... can we trust politicians as far as our integration n defense matters are concerned? im really worried y a person is to b made chairman who is lacking any moral quality?i know its not good bt fact is fact?

plz do rely

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