FATF bills passed

The parliament has finally passed three crucial bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regarding terror financing and money laundering. This comes amid a looming deadline before the global body reviews Pakistan’s progress on the action plan.

It was a hectic day as the Senate had rejected a bill paving the way for a joint session of parliament to pass them amid a ruckus as the opposition protested over the bill. The prime minister expressed his frustration and said the opposition had acted against accountability and national security. He said that being backlisted would trigger sanctions and send the economy crashing and it was the opposition’s responsibility to support them.

One of the most controversial amendments was to Anti-Terrorism Act allowing an investigation officer, under directives from the court, to conduct covert operations to detect terror funding and track communication for sixty days. The opposition has the right to raised objections and demand clarity but instead has been working for its personal interests.

The opposition has earlier suggested amendment to NAB laws to remove mega corruption cases and not initiate cases on money laundering. The remarks by the opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif calling the passage of the bill a ‘black day in democracy’ are also unwarranted. It was a moment to work together for the sake of the country which has been sorely missed.

It is understandable that the opposition needs to compromise for the sake of national security but the government should not push forward repressive laws under the garb of FATF bills. Now that the bills are passed, the next step would be to satisfy the next global body and be removed from the grey list. This is vital to usher in economic development and prosperity and bring in foreign investment.

Both sides agree that it is necessary to meet the FATF requirements to avoid a blacklist to curtail the scourge of terror financing and money laundering. Legislation should never be controversial on political grounds and now that the law has been passed, it will be a huge challenge for the government to effectively implement it.

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