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Chairman Senate drops prevention of violent extremism bill

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani dropped a bill on preventing violating extremism as the government seeks to bar “any extremist or violent” organisation from contesting elections.

“Whether the government wants or not, we will drop this bill from Senate,” Sajrani said while chairing a session of the Upper House on Sunday, adding that the bill was not even passed by the National Assembly.

PTI Senator Humayun Mohmand said the bill was a conspiracy to prevent the PTI from contesting the election. Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said the bill was against all political parties. He called the bill the last nail in the coffin of democracy and said the government did not even take its allies into confidence.

JUI- F Senator Kamran Murtaza said the bill violates several fundament human rights. He said the bill was an insult to political parties and will be used to criticize the government.

Senior JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said the allied parties are uncertain about what would happen to them. He opposed the bill and threatened to stage a walkout of the legislation was passed.

PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman said the opposition should side with the government in passing legislation. It was decided to send the bill to the committee before being enacted into legislation.

Minister of State Shahadat Awan tabled the bill in the Senate seeking to bar “any extremist or violent” organisation from contesting elections

According to the draft bill, violent extremism refers to “inciting, supporting, threatening, and resorting to violence and hostility due to political, religious, and sectarian as well as ideological beliefs, including financing and providing protection of a scheduled individual or organisation involved in violent extremism”. 

“….the state is committed to further strengthen the legal mechanism to counter promotion and propagation of acts of violent extremism and provide for mechanism for de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of affected persons,” the draft bill reads.

Through this bill, a violent person, leader, official or worker of a violent organisation will be detained for 90 days to 12 months. Following the bill’s approval, the government can add a person or organisation to lists 1 and 2 on violent extremism.

Violent organisations and persons on the lists will not be allowed to participate in the elections as a result of this bill. At the same time, no financial institution will provide financial support to its leader, member, or official.

Those added to the first list of the bill will include an organisation involved in violent extremism and whose leader is violent or the organisations resurfaces with a changed name.

While those in the second list will comprise persons involved in violent extremism, is part of a violent organisation or its leader, or provide financial support to the violent organisation.

As per the draft bill, the government will restrict media access or publication of violent individuals and organisations. The government will also investigate the assets of the violent outfit.

The arms license of leaders, officials and members of the violent organisation will be revoked, as per the draft bill, while their assets, properties and bank accounts will be frozen. Their passports will also be confiscated and they will not be allowed to travel abroad.

The government will establish a centre for the rehabilitation and de-radicalisation of violent individuals. Educational institutions will immediately report acts of violent extremism to the government and will not allow any person to engage in or promote violent extremism.

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