Parliament approves three FATF-related bills

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi has summoned a joint session of parliament to vote on important bills related to Pakistan’s obligations to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The session was presided over by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser while the bill was presented by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Jamaat-i-Islami senators Sirajul Haq and Mushtaq Ghani and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani among others were also in attendance.

The bills presented in the parliament included the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill and the Anti-Terrorism Act (amendment) Bill, 2020, all of which were previously rejected by the Senate.

The legislation aims to enable law enforcement agencies to take certain encountering techniques with authoritative support of the courts of law to curb with these menaces.

According to details, Section 19-C (application of investigation techniques) has been inserted in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Under the new law, the investigating officer with the permission of the court, within 60 days will be permitted to use techniques including undercover operation, intercepting communications, accessing computer systems and controlled delivery for investigation of financing terrorism.

The law also gives the federal government the power to “make rules to regulate the procedure and execution of orders.

The bill states that funding for terrorism was a major obstacle in the country’s development and was benefiting those elements which a threat to internal and external peace of the country.

As soon as the session began, Babar Awan tabled the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill which was initially passed through a voice vote.

Although, the NA speaker asked for a vote count with members being asked to stand up from their seats after the opposition shouted in protest. The bill was passed with 200 members voting in favor and 190 votings against it.

Amendments to certain clauses were proposed but rejected by the house through a voice vote. The ruckus continued as opposition members chanted slogans during the voting on amendments in the clauses of the bill.

Afterward, the opposition walked out of the session after the speaker did not give them permission to make amendments in the Anti-Terrorism Act (amendment) Bill, 2020.

Previously, the Senate where the opposition enjoys a majority, rejected the bill. During the vote today, out of 104 members, 31 voted in favor of passing the bill on terror financing while 34 voted against it.

Under the 18th Amendment, if a bill passed by one house of Parliament is rejected by the other, it can become a law only if it is passed by a joint sitting of the two houses.

On August 25, the opposition-ruled Senate had rejected the bills earlier adopted by the NA, as two major opposition parties – the PML-N and PPP – declined to support them.

The two parties insisted that the Leader of the House should withdraw his remarks against their leadership and the laid-down procedure concerning the bills be followed.

However, Dr Shahzad Waseem, who represents the prime minister in the House, maintained that he had not named anyone and made a general statement that Pakistan had not been put on the grey list during the PTI government.

The PPP legislators were adamant that Dr Waseem should clarify that no political leadership but the Foreign Office had issued a notification against other persons and outfits, including Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

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